The former US financial regulator appointed by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) to take charge of all Pilatus Bank assets, has declined to comment on reports that the controversial bank is winding up.

The MFSA tasked the regulator, Lawrence Connell, with assuming control of Pilatus’s banking and investment business in March after chairman Ali Sadr Hasheminejad was arrested on charges of money laundering and violating US sanctions.

Last month, Mr Hasheminejad’s lawyers told the Times of Malta that the bank was “in the process of winding up”, news that emerged from bail submissions of the former Pilatus chairman.

Approached by the Times of Malta on Wednesday, Mr Connell said he had “no comment” to make about the defence lawyers’ claims as well as how long it would take to close the bank.

No comment to make about the lawyers’ claims

He also declined to answer questions on the amount of deposits that are still held at the Ta’ Xbiex-based bank.

Pilatus Bank has repeatedly been in the headlines in recent years, with its operations linked to allegations of money-laundering.

Read: Idiot’s guide to the Pilatus Bank scandal - Kristina Chetcuti

The Daphne Project, a consortium of 18 media houses including the Times of Malta, has also found that a network of some 50 companies and trusts secretly owned by the Azerbaijan ruling elite moved millions of euros around Europe through Pilatus Bank.

Since the arrest of Mr Hasheminejad, the UK branch of Pilatus Bank has closed down, a move that was confirmed by the Bank of England Prudential Regulation Authority.

Meanwhile, the MFSA has also insisted that the bank remains subject to the regulatory sanctions imposed by the watchdog, which it said “severely limited the bank’s activities”. This, the MFSA said, also meant that the bank could not proceed with winding up on its own accord.

MFSA sources have also claimed that the bank’s directors are taking legal action against the authority in an attempt to seize back control. 


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