Pilatus Bank has been ‘vindicated’ by Egrant inquiry

The bank says the inquiry laid bare the political machinations that destroyed it ‘without good cause’ • The bank's holding company said it is exploring avenues for legal redress

The bank said it was exploring avenues for legal redress
The bank said it was exploring avenues for legal redress

Pilatus Bank has accused Malta’s financial services regulator of carrying out a witch-hunt against the bank and its Iranian chairman in a terse reaction to the Egrant inquiry.

According to Pilatus Holding, the inquiry “laid bare political machinations” that “destroyed” the bank without good cause or basis in fact.

“The findings of the inquiry have clearly demonstrated the false and malicious nature of the campaign against the bank, as orchestrated by local politicians and seized upon by the media, as a rush to judgment by the Maltese regulators,” the company said.

It said the inquiry had “completely vindicated Pilatus Bank’s position and continued assertions of innocence”.

In a statement published on Friday evening, the bank said it reserved the “strongest condemnation for the actions of the Malta Financial Services Authority”.

The bank’s chairman Ali Sadr Hasheminejad was arrested in March and charged with breaching sanctions on Iran, bank fraud, and money laundering. He was granted bail by a New York Court in June.

Following his arrest, the MFSA froze the bank’s assets and placed an administrator in charge of the bank’s operations.

Last month, the MFSA formally asked the European Central Bank to withdraw the bank’s license. 

READ ALSO: MFSA recommends the ECB withdraw Pilatus Bank’s licence

“The MFSA has, by its misplaced application of the law, moved to halt the operations of Pilatus Bank, and sought to cripple the bank and its robust operations,” it said in a statement.

“It is now apparent that the actions of the MFSA have clearly been motivated by considerations which are beyond regulatory affairs for which MFSA is responsible, and thus ultra vires its regulatory powers.”

It stressed that “no other bank operating in Malta has ever been treated in this appalling, discriminatory and heavy-handed manner.

Pilatus Holding accused the MFSA of acting in reckless disregard for the financial stability and viability of the bank, adding that it had not paused to consider the interests of its “account holders and other stakeholders”.

“In our view, there can be no doubt that the underlying motivation for this witch-hunt against Pilatus Bank stems from the fact that the bank was chaired by a successful Iranian businessman that the short-sighted and racist politicians of Malta are determined to see fail,” the bank said.

The bank also accused “individuals within the Maltese regulators” had sought to discredit and attack Pilatus Bank by “deliberately and maliciously” leaking confidential materials and “instigating the misuse and misinterpretation of that material in the media”.

Moreover, it said that the media, both in Malta and internationally, has been “complicit in spreading fake news, without fact-checking or providing any balance to their reporting”.

READ ALSO: Pilatus lawyers said damages for US lawsuit against Malta journalists would reach $40 million

“Pilatus Bank, prior to such reckless actions and attempted fame-ups by certain Maltese politicians and individuals within the regulatory bodies, was among the most successful banks both in Malta and the entire Europe with exceptional reputation and regulatory standards.”

Furthermore, it said there had been no attempt by Maltese regulators “to correct the record, and accept their rush to judgment driven by their political affiliations”.

“Now that the allegations against Pilatus Bank have conclusively been shown to be unfounded, false and targeted, the stakeholders of Pilatus Bank are exploring avenues for legal redress within Malta and internationally, and will pursue such action imminently and to the fullest extent possible for the tremendous damages caused by such reckless and deliberate misconduct. We will be issuing more press releases in the coming days.”

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