Satabank has had its banking license withdrawn by the European Central Bank. 

Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said that the beleaguered bank’s licence had been withdrawn - the most drastic move a regulator can take against a financial institution. 

The ECB was acting on the basis of a recommendation made by the local regulator, the Malta Financial Services Authority, on June 30.

All 12,000 of Satabank’s accounts were effectively frozen by the Malta Financial Services Authority in October 2018, in the wake of alleged money laundering breaches.

Since then, 300 reports of suspicious transactions at Satabank worth in excess of €130 million have been flagged by experts tasked with reviewing the lender. 

Auditing firm Ernst&Young will continue to act as bank administrators, the MFSA said in a statement on Wednesday. 

Last year Times of Malta had reported how billions of euros in suspicious transactions which moved through the Paceville-based bank were under investigation.

Financial regulators and police have been looking into a cornucopia of cases with suspected links to fuel smuggling, drug trafficking, the Mafia and black-listed countries, a senior source privy to the case had said.

It is the second time in as many years that the ECB has withdrawn a Maltese bank's licence: in 2018 the Frankfurt-based institution had pulled Pilatus Bank's licence after it was implicated in alleged money laundering breaches.

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