An EU court has thrown out an attempt by Malta’s now-defunct Pilatus Bank to try and get its hands back on a banking license.
In a decision handed down on Wednesday, the EU’s General Court dismissed an application filed by Pilatus Bank plc which sought to annul the European Central Bank’s 2018 decision to withdraw the bank’s license.
Pilatus Bank’s license had been revoked, two years after it was first implicated in alleged money laundering breaches.
The Ta’ Xbiex-based bank has been at the centre of political controversy ever since a series of leaked financial intelligence reports flagged evidence of money laundering involving senior Labour politicians and serious compliance shortcomings back in 2016.
The FIAU slapped the bank with a record €4.9 million fine last year for letting millions in potentially shady cash flow into Malta unchecked.
Soon afterwards, the police charged the bank and its designated money-laundering reporting officer Claude-Anne Sant Fournier with money laundering.
The bank’s owner, Ali Sadr, was arrested in the United States on money-laundering and sanctions-busting charges. However, he walked free from those charges after the prosecution fumbled the case.
Pilatus claimed it was a victim
In its application to the EU court, the controversial bank claimed it had suffered an infringement of EU regulations, had been the victim of incorrect assessment, and that the ECB had failed to properly exercise its discretion.
In its judgement, the court found that, according to the US Department of Justice, Sadr had been arrested on six charges linked to violating sanctions on Iran.
Following Sadr’s indictment in the US, the bank had received withdrawal requests totalling nearly half of the bank’s balance sheet, the court added.
“Having examined and rejected each of the 11 pleas, the General Court concludes that the application must be dismissed in its entirety,” the court ruled.
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