Updated 8.40pm - adds protest video
Police officers were spotted at Pilatus Bank offices in Ta’ Xbiex following the arrest of the bank's chairman in the US, civil society activists said on Wednesday morning.
"Let us hope that servers have been seized and employees interviewed, although this should have been done a long time ago," blogger Manuel Delia told reporters at a press conference called by the Civil Society Network and Occupy Justice.
Mr Delia added that he had been told that unidentified individuals were seen entering and exiting the bank's offices overnight.
A Times of Malta reporter spotted a police officer exiting Whitehall Mansions, where the bank is based, shortly before the activists' press conference began.
The groups called for Malta’s financial regulator to withdraw Pilatus’ banking licence by noon.
Bank chairman Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad has been arrested in the US and charged with secretly funnelling $115 million through the US banking system from Venezuela, in violation of sanctions against the Latin American state. He faces up to 125 years in prison if found guilty.
READ: What they're saying about Pilatus Bank chairman's arrest
Mr Delia noted that the US indictment of Mr Sadr related to alleged activities conducted before 2013 – the year Pilatus Bank was granted a banking licence in Malta. He slammed whoever had conducted due diligence of the bank in Malta, saying they were either incompetent or complicit in wrongdoing and in any case, they should be sacked.
The public, Mr Delia said, had heard a lot about Pilatus Bank and its practices.
“It became clear some time ago that this wasn't a bank, it was a pigsty,” he said, as activists called for the resignation of attorney general Peter Grech.
Civil Society Network spokesman and Nationalist councillor Michael Briguglio said Dr Grech should be impeached.
He said that the government could no longer dismiss talk of suspicions about the bank as “spin” put on by anti-government agents.
“Is this a conspiracy involving US authorities and [international news wire] Reuters?” he asked.
Dr Briguglio said he was concerned about the safety of Russian whistleblower Maria Efimova – who handed herself in to Greek authorities on Monday – and sacked FIAU official Jonathan Ferris.
Both have been denied whistleblower status by the local authorities.
In the evening, activists held a protest outside the police headquarters during which they demanded the resignation of the police commissioner.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us