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MALTA - Pilatus Bank and official charged; inquiry recommends nine face action


Closed bank and Claude-Anne Sant Fournier charged with money laundering.  Pilatus Bank and one of its senior officials have been charged with money laundering, while a magisterial inquiry has recommended criminal action against eight others.

The move comes four years after murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia accused the bank of being involved in corruption and money laundering.

Charges were filed against the Maltese bank on Thursday as well as Claude-Anne Sant Fournier, 41, the bank's head of legal and former money laundering reporting officer.

They were jointly charged with committing offences in breach of the Money Laundering Act on March 21, 2018 and in the preceding years and months.

Both denied the charges.

During the hearing, the defence revealed that a magisterial inquiry, recommended criminal proceedings against nine people linked to the bank.

Magistrate Joe Mifsud urged police to take further action.

"I urge you to continue to investigate and prosecute anyone else involved in this Pilatus Bank scandal," he said. "We are suffering because of those who abused. So continue to investigate, even by asking for European Arrest Warrants."

None of the nine names, besides Sant Fournier were revealed in court. However, Times of Malta understands that one person, Antoniella Gauci, a former risk manager at Pilatus Bank, was interviewed by police and released without charge.

Pilatus Bank opened in 2014 but was closed down four years later after its owner Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, was charged in the US in connection with money laundering and fraud.

The court on Thursday issued a freezing order against the bank and a temporary order against Sant Fournier, who was granted bail against a deposit of €10,000 and a personal guarantee of €40,000.

The Ta' Xbiex-based bank was fined a record €4.9 million by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) earlier this week.