€131m worth of suspicious transactions at Satabank
06 Dec 2019

Over 300 reports of suspicious transactions at Satabank worth in excess of €130 million have been flagged by global services firm EY since it was entrusted to administer the bank’s assets by the financial regulator.

The move had followed the suspension of the bank’s licence by the Malta Financial Services Authority in the wake of various money laundering breaches.

Unlike Pilatus Bank which had its licence revoked by the European Central Bank, Satabank was slapped with a €3 million fine by the MFSA.

Satabank’s licence suspension hurt mostly its 7,173 clients who between them had deposits of €311.3 million.

Their accounts were frozen, meaning they were unable to withdraw any money until EY started what is known as a controlled release.

This gradual process, which is still ongoing, had prompted complaints by clients who had not yet received their savings months after the takeover.

A report tabled in Parliament by Financial Services Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri shows that up to September 20 of this year, €121.6 million of funds belonging to 2,342 customers had been released.

This process applied to Malta resident customers with balances between €50 and €15,000 who could submit the required identification documentation and had the funds released immediately through a bank draft or transferred onto an account opened with a credit payment institution within EU/EEA jurisdiction.

A further 984 clients having €70.8 million were in the process of receiving their funds, while 3,619 account holders having €64.2 million still had outstanding documents to present.

It also transpired that 309 suspicious transaction reports worth €131 million from 601 customers were filed.

These customers included a cluster of about 100 entities for which additional individual suspicious transaction reports could be issued on a case by case basis in the process of the control release process.

The report also noted that access to €40.3 million of funds belonging to 55 customers was restricted in the wake of orders by Maltese courts.

By Keith Micallef, Times of Malta, 5 December 2019 

Read more at Times of Malta

Photo (cropped and edited): Frank Vincentz [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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