Police are “at the stage” of issuing international arrest warrants linked to the Pilatus Bank money-laundering case, Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa said on Tuesday.

Almost a year after the bank and its then money-laundering reporting officer were charged, Gafa told The Malta Independent that the police had reached the stage of issuing arrest warrants.

The bank’s former owner and chairman Ali Sadr, as well as other former directors, have so far remained unpunished, despite a magisterial inquiry recommending money-laundering charges against them.

Pilatus’ former risk manager Antoniella Gauci also avoided prosecution, despite the inquiry saying she has a case to answer to.

Sadr, along with the former directors, all left Malta after the bank was shuttered by authorities in 2018 over money-laundering concerns.

Sadr is suspected to have knowingly helped his bank’s clients transfer, convert and conceal the proceeds of crime, according to the inquiry findings.

The inquiry was concluded and handed to the state advocate in December 2020.

Pilatus Bank’s lax money-laundering controls have been on the radar ever since a 2016 inspection of the bank by the financial regulator and the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU).

E-mails show Sadr had complained to former Office of the Prime Minister chief of staff Keith Schembri about the authorities allegations about lax-money laundering at the bank.

A year earlier, Schembri and former prime minister Joseph Muscat had travelled to Italy as guests for Sadr’s Florence wedding.

Pilatus was fined a record €4.9 million by the FIAU last year for letting millions in suspect funds flow through Malta unchallenged.

Times of Malta exposed in January how the bank was used to send $10 million worth of potentially “suspicious” transactions to a mystery company found in the 17 Black money trail. 

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