No funds from suspicious transactions were found in the accounts of a former money laundering reporting officer (MLRO) at Pilatus bank, charged in her personal capacity for alleged money laundering, a court was told.
The information emerged in court on Wednesday when criminal proceedings resumed against Pilatus Bank and former senior official Claude-Ann Sant Fournier whose lawyers are contesting that she has no case to answer in her personal capacity.
When testifying at Wednesday's sitting, investigating inspector Pauline Bonello said that she had been instructed to confirm whether any funds or assets could be traced to Sant Fournier’s accounts, besides her salary, while employed at the bank.
Police had investigated the suspect in her personal capacity and found no suspicious criminal activity in that regard.
“Nothing illegal,” asked presiding magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech.
“No,” the witness replied, pointing out that there had, however, been a series of repeated shortcomings which, over time, constituted a course of conduct that indicated that Sant Fournier, in her role as MLRO, was allegedly aiding and abetting money laundering.
Defence counsel Kathleen Calleja Grima asked the inspector to confirm whether “just two hours before the arraignment” the defence had been told that Sant Fournier would only face charges as the bank’s MLRO and not in her personal capacity.
The inspector replied that it was “an off-the-record thing” based on information in hand at the time.
Repeated mistakes pointed at a course of criminal conduct.
Yet, that argument was contested by defence lawyer Stefano Filletti who stressed that administrative failures over a number of occasions did not constitute criminal behaviour amounting to money laundering.
Moreover, Filletti also pointed out that other banking institutions and their MLROs in Malta had been found guilty of continuous and systematic breaches, but none had been arraigned as in the present case.
Another investigating officer, inspector Claire Borg, testified that the charges were pinned on the conclusions of the report drawn up by UK firm Duff and Phelps.
A decision on whether there is a prima facie case against Sant Fournier in her personal capacity is expected on Friday.
AG lawyers Cinzia Azzopardi Alamango and Marthese Grech assisted the prosecution.
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