The magistrate in charge of establishing the evidence against a former official of the Pilatus Bank said that there were sufficient At first glance evidence to proceed with an indictment for money laundering.
Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech delivered her ruling earlier this afternoon as the case against Claude Anne Sant Fournier continued. Sant Fournier, who was previously responsible for money laundering reports (MLRO) at the bank, is accused, along with the bank itself, of money laundering.
Pilatus and Sant Fournier were jointly charged on September 2 with breaking the money laundering law in 2018 and committing similar offenses in previous years. The court had issued a freezing order against the bank and an interim order against Sant Fournier during his arraignment.
In August, the bank was fined nearly 5 million euros by the Maltese money laundering watchdog, the FIAU, for “very serious and systemic” breaches of the bank’s obligation. to prevent financial crime. The fine came after a three-year investigation into the bank’s customers and procedures.
At a previous hearing, the court heard that Sant Fournier had repeatedly made unexplained “administrative errors”, which led investigators to believe that she was aiding and abetting money laundering.
Sant Fournier’s defense attorney argued that the prosecution said the former MLRO did not gain any financial benefit from the laundering and asked why she was also being charged in a personal capacity.
Bank Pilatus was closed in November 2018 when the European Central Bank revoked its license two years after it was first involved in suspected money laundering offenses.
The bank came under the spotlight just before the 2017 general election, when Daphne Caruana Galizia alleged that the wife of former prime minister Michelle Muscat owned the Panamanian company Egrant, which had a bank account with Pilatus. .
A forensic investigation into the allegations found no such account linked to Egrant or Michelle Muscat and dismissed the allegations.
The owner of the bank, Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, an Iranian national, was eventually arrested in the United States and charged with violating sanctions against Venezuela. The case against Hasheminejad was eventually dropped.
Prosecutors Cinzia Azzopardi Alamango and Marthese Grech appear for the attorney general’s office, inspectors Claire Borg and Pauline Bonello continue.
Lawyers Stefano Filletti and Kathleen Calleja Grima are defense lawyers.