A magisterial inquiry into financial crime allegations at Pilatus Bank found there may have been trading in influence between its chairman Ali Sadr and former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri, NGO Repubblika has claimed in court documents.

The civil society group filed an application calling on the courts to order the police commissioner to prosecute Pilatus Bank following the conclusion of a magisterial inquiry that found evidence of money laundering and criminal association, among other crimes.

Times of Malta had previously reported how in 2016, Ali Sadr had complained to Keith Schembri about the FIAU’s “wrong allegations” about lax money laundering control at Pilatus. 

Repubblika president Robert Aquilina announced details of the court action to the press.

In the court filing, signed by lawyer Jason Azzopardi, Repubblika said that the conclusion of the magisterial inquiry, a copy of which had been handed over to the police last year, had found evidence of criminal activity and other crimes, including money laundering, trading in influence, criminal association, making false statements to public authorities, and organising or financing a group with the intention of committing a crime. 

These criminal acts, it goes on to say, were carried out through Pilatus Bank and its various directors and officials, with the complicity of Keith Schembri and the bank’s owner Ali Sadr Hasheminejad. 

The filing also says that the inquiry had ordered that charges be filed against Pilatus Bank officials Mehmet Tasli, Rivera Luis Felipe, Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, Ghambari Hamidreza and Antoniella Gauci. Whatsmore, the application says, the inquiry had also found ample evidence that Sadr and Schembri had been trading in influence. 

“Now that more than 15 months have passed since the Police Commissioner and the Attorney General were ordered by the inquiring magistrate to prosecute the individuals named previously on very serious accusations, they have not only failed to act but have effectively refused to prosecute these individuals,” the filing said. 

After writing to Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa twice, calling on him to start proceedings against these individuals twice and being ignored, the NGO said that the commissioner was ignoring the outcome of the inquiry and refusing to comply with its orders. 

As such it had resorted to legal action, asking the court to order the police commissioner to get on with criminal proceedings as had been ordered by the inquiring magistrate. 

Some 400,000 documents were seized in the inquiry into alleged criminal activity at the now-shuttered Pilatus Bank, an exercise that cost the taxpayer some €7.5 million

Pilatus Bank and former senior official Claude-Anne Sant Fournier were charged with money laundering last September.

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