ECB currently assessing leaked FIAU reports on Pilatus Bank

MEP David Casa said tha leaked documents compiled by the Financial Investigation and Analysis Unit about the bank had been distributed among its members for assessment

Nationalist MEP David Casa with the President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani
Nationalist MEP David Casa with the President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani

The European Central Bank is assessing information and leaked documents on alleged money laundering by Pilatus Bank, according to a Nationalist MEP.

MEP David Casa said that Daniele Nouy, chair of the ECB Supervisory Board, had informed him that the reports he gave her – leaked documents compiled by the Financial Investigation and Analysis Unit about the bank – had been distributed among its members for assessment.

“I expect the ECB to protect the integrity of the European Banking System and to take action to prevent dirty Azeri money from accessing the EU’s financial system,” he said.

Casa filed his complaint on 25 November last year, calling for the withdrawal of Pilatus Bank’s licence and for the bank to be taken under control by the ECB.

He had earlier called on the Maltese financial regulator to revoke the bank’s licence, in a letter to chairman Joseph V. Bannister.

The private bank was implicated in the Egrant investigation, when a magisterial inquiry was kick-started on a complaint by the Prime Minister, into allegations by Daphne Caruana Galizia that the bank had processed a $1 million transaction to his wife.

“The fact that the evidence directly links the Office of the Prime Minister of Malta to Pilatus Bank suggests that this money laundering outfit will continue to operate within the European Union with impunity unless the ECB uses the legal powers it has at its disposal to intervene,” Casa had told Nouy in his letter.

The ECB has vast powers in terms of licensing of EU banks and since Pilatus Bank is a ‘less significant institution’, the ECB supervises it indirectly.

“My argument is that the situation is serious enough to warrant the ECB to intervene,” Casa said when contacted. “It is true that this would be unprecedented in view of the fact that it is the MFSA that is primarily responsible for supervising Pilatus Bank.”

He argued that even if the ECB did not feel the situation warranted direct intervention, it should – at the very least – investigate the “serious shortcomings” of the MFSA and force the Maltese regulator to act.

“Every time Keith Schembri needed money laundered (that we know of) it is Pilatus Bank that was used,” he said. “It’s not a coincidence. This is their business model. It is outrageous. And it is unacceptable.”

Pilatus bank is chaired by Iranian-born Seyed Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, who holds a St Kitts & Nevis passport which was even put into question by Casa in his letter to the ECB’s supervisory board.

The bank has denied hosting any accounts for the Muscat family, and provided the inquiring magistrate with its core banking platform and IT system for the investigation. Casa reiterated his vow to take up the matter with the European Banking Authority if the bank’s licence is not revoked.

“In the event that the MFSA persists in its dereliction of duty I will have to bring the matter to the attention of the European Banking Authority,” he said. “As for Pilatus Bank, I will continue to use every platform the European Parliament provides until justice is done.”

 

More in National