The MFSA has appointed auditor Robert Ancilleri as the competent person at law to oversee the affairs of Pilatus Bank following the resignation of the incumbent Lawrence Connell.

Connell, a  former US financial regulator, had been appointed in March 2018 but resigned with immediate effect on Wednesday. No reason was given by the MFSA.

Mr Ancilleri was appointed to replace him. 

The MFSA said that its notice of March 2018 on the appointment of a competent person shall remain in full force.  

The Ta’ Xbiex bank has been at the centre of political controversy ever since a series of leaked financial intelligence reports flagged evidence of money-laundering and serious compliance shortcomings back in 2016.

In March 2018 the MFSA issued a number of sanctions against the bank, effectively seizing its operations, after its chairman Ali Sadr Hasheminajad was arrested in the US. The authority forced the chairman out of the bank and the European Central Bank in November that year revoked the bank's licence. 

Hasheminajad was indicted in the US in March 2018 for alleged bank fraud, money laundering and the evasion of US sanctions against Iran. He was convicted of bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, defrauding the United States and busting sanctions against Iran. He was, however, cleared of conspiracy to commit money laundering. In June 2020, before sentencing, the US prosecutors withdrew the criminal charges, saying that pursuing the case would “not be in the interest of justice” due to the resources it would require.

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