Pilatus lambasts Efimova as ‘politically motivated Russian informant’

The bank has filed a judicial protest against the MFSA, claiming it was negligent and gullible in believing its former employee

In a statement, Pilatus accused former employee Maria Efimova of being a Russian informant
In a statement, Pilatus accused former employee Maria Efimova of being a Russian informant

Pilatus Holding, the company that owns Pilatus Bank, has accused the Malta Financial Services Authority of “negligence and gullibility” in blindly accepting information fed to it by Maria Efimova.

Efimova was one of sources behind Daphne Caruana Galizia’s claims that the company Egrant belonged to Michelle Muscat, the Prime Minister’s wife.

“The Egrant fiasco confirms the negligence and gullibility of MFSA, who blindly accepted the misrepresentations fed to it by the ‘Russian informant’ Maria Efimova, supported and used by her politically motivated collaborators,” Pilatus Holding said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

The company said that it had filed a judicial protest earlier this week, calling upon the MFSA to withdraw all directives imposed on the Bank, and to withdraw the “misguided recommendation made to the European Central Bank”.

It said it was formally holding the MFSA responsible for “any and all damages suffered and may be suffered, which are expected to be very significant”.

“Prior to the reckless actions of the MFSA ‘as at February 2018, the Bank maintained a liquidity coverage ratio of six hundred 1% (601%)’ which is six times the required amount,” Pilatus Holding said.

It said the bank’s regulatory standards “were among the highest in Europe since its inception”

“Therefore, any attempt by the MFSA to find an excuse with the Bank’s prudential standards will be directly attributable to the MFSA’s misconduct since it has put itself fully in charge of the management of the Bank and will be held liable for any such potential breaches,” the company said.

It said that given that the Egrant inquiry had “completely exonerated” the bank, it was now unjustifiable that the MFSA would persist with maintaining the “irrational hard-line approach” taken against the bank.

The company accused the MFSA of knowing that the Egrant allegations were “merely a fabrication”.

“MFSA has acted as judge and jury and interviewed multiple times the Bank’s top officials, asking pointed and incriminating questions about Egrant Inc and treating them like convicted criminals. The top officials at MFSA can refresh their memory on their judgemental attitude towards the Bank and its officials by referring back to the recordings of these interviews.”

It said the MFSA was persisting in its quest to try and find something “subjectively illegal” with the bank.

“Now the MFSA has admitted that it is investigating the legality of every ‘every deposit an every transaction’ at the Bank. The Bank welcomes the investigation as it has always acted within the remit of the law, however, when the parties investigating are not impartial and have at track record of being driven by political motivations, the likelihood of an independent and fair, the likelihood of an independent and fair treatment for Pilatus Bank is close to impossible.”

It said one could only but question MFSA’s motives in embarking on an “unprecedented and unjustifiable investigation of a credit institution with no known breaches of its conduct or regulatory obligations”. 

“With respect to the US indictment, Mr Sadr has pleaded not guilty and he looks forward to the opportunity to present his defence at trial. Under United States law, he is presumed innocent, and it would be an outrage to punish a person who is presumed innocent even before such person has had the opportunity to be heard.”

“It is Pilatus Holding Ltd’s belief that the MFSA’s actions with respect to Pilatus Bank demonstrate the authority’s incompetence in dealing with the matter, and have exposed the Authority’s failures to adequately and impartially exercise its duties as an independent financial services regulator. We are hopeful that the recent changes in the management of the MFSA will lead to the rectification of the Authority’s misconduct.”

Pilatus Holding said it remained committed to seeking all legal remedies available at law.

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