06 Nov 2018
The European Central Bank (ECB) has withdrawn Maltese-based Pilatus Bank’s licence following allegations of money laundering and the arrest of its owner over financial crime charges in the US.
The money laundering allegations around Pilatus, which was central to a scandal investigated by murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, go back almost two years.
In March this year, the US Department of Justice issued an indictment on the bank’s owner Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad, accusing him of violating sanctions involving transactions worth over $115 million. Sadr denies the allegations.
Following the developments, Malta’s Financial Services Authority (MFSA) recommended the ECB withdraw Pilatus licence.
In an emailed statement on Monday, the ECB said: “Following a request by the Maltese authorities, we have withdrawn the authorisation of Pilatus Bank as a credit institution on 2 November.
“ECB Banking Supervision does not have the legal powers to supervise and enforce anti-money laundering legislation. This is a national responsibility. If requested by national authorities, the ECB can withdraw a banking licence on grounds of money laundering.”
The MFSA also published a statement confirming this.
Efforts to obtain a comment from Pilatus were unsuccessful.
– Irene Madongo
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