The €62,000-fine imposed on the Sliema-based company linked to a Venezuela money-laundering scheme could not be announced before due process was completed, a spokesman for the financial services watchdog said.

The Malta Financial Services Authority fined Portmann Capital €62,000 two days after The Malta Independent on Sunday reported on August 12 the company was linked to a $1.2 billion Venezuelan money-laundering scheme. The newspaper had not named the company in its story.

According to the MFSA's website, Portmann Capital was fined for breaching its licence conditions by offering payment services to clients.

Portmann Capital's 2016 accounts show the MFSA carried out a compliance visit that year during which it was ordered to stop offering payment services, which were outside the scope of its licence. The 2016 accounts show that Portmann Capital was not penalised for the breach nor was it aware it would be.

Offering payment services to clients

Portmann Capital is suspected to have laundered about €500 million, embezzled from Venezuela’s State-owned oil company PDVSA. It allegedly took a €20 million cut to launder the funds.

A day after police reportedly swooped in on Portmann Capital’s Sliema offices on August 21, the MFSA ordered the firm to halt all transactions.

It was also forbidden by the financial services watchdog from taking on any news clients, a notice published on the regulator’s website shows.

Read: ‘Portmann heard of alleged Venezuelan racket from media’

The managing director and vice chairman of a Swiss bank last week pleaded guilty to charges in the US for his role in the scheme. German national and Panama resident Matthias Krull pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering

The international money-laundering conspiracy allegedly began in December 2014 with a currency exchange scheme designed to embezzle about $600 million from PDVSA obtained through bribery and fraud, and the conspirators’ efforts to launder a portion of the proceeds.

By May 2015, the conspiracy that had started with $600 million doubled to $1.2 billion.

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