Updated at 7pm: Adds Pilatus Holdings reply to Mr Casa
Pilatus Bank has challenged MEP David Casa to renounce his political immunity so that he can be sued for damages, claiming it was clear that he was part of an "elaborate frame-up".
The bank said the conclusive findings of the magisterial inquiry into Egrant made it clear that Mr Casa acted in a frame-up with "declared fugitive" Maria Efimova by the courts of Malta.
"Now that the facts are established by the judiciary powers in Malta regarding Egrant, Mr Casa can only show his good faith and live up to his ‘principles’ in his quest against Pilatus Bank by renouncing his political immunity, so that he can rightfully be pursued in the courts for the enormous damages he has caused to the bank and many hard working people of Malta and their families,” Pilatus said in a statement.
“After all, why would Mr Casa want to hang so tightly to his immunity when he is so certain of the serious accusations he is making and the credibility and reliability of his sources?”
It noted that Mr Casa had written 50 letters to various Financial Intelligence Units, claiming that there was “evidence of systemic money laundering by Pilatus Bank" and that its clients were "predominantly Azeri politically exposed persons". In addition, he wrote that the bank had "laundered money derived from corruption for top Maltese government officials".
“Today these conclusions by Mr Casa are proven to be pure fabrications, and strikingly different to the conclusive findings of the magisterial inquiry,” it added, noting that the MEP's “second media stunt” was to send a two-year-old compliance report to the European Banking Authority.
It noted sarcastically that he had forgotten to mention that FIAU had since then retracted those statements and deemed the matter closed, with the entire report “certainly tainted by Maria Efimova’s fabrications”.
“This also further explains why the report was written so vaguely with the wrong facts and perhaps intentions,” it said.
Pilatus said it reserved its rights to seek legal redress according to law.
The bank had also threatened local media organisations with multi-million dollar legal action in foreign jurisdictions.
Casa to Pilatus: Your threats will not stop me
In a reply, Mr Casa said the fact that Pilatus Bank’s owner is currently facing a 125-year prison term in the United States for a string of crimes, including money laundering, appeared to have severely clouded the bank’s judgment.
Several FIAU reports established that Pilatus Bank was the medium through which Mr Schembri and his associates laundered money. Multiple cases were the subject of ongoing magisterial inquiries. This, he said, was not in question.
He added that the fact that the bank’s client list was predominantly made up of Azeri politically exposed persons was also not in question as also was not in question the fact that the bank had severely damaged Malta's reputation.
This was so much so that its license was currently being revoked.
"Until recently, Pilatus Bank operated in Malta with complete impunity, putting the financial sector and the many livelihoods that depend on it at great risk.
"The assertion that the part-published inquiry clears Pilatus Bank of these revelations is preposterous. The part-published inquiry had absolutely nothing to do with these revelations.
"This is part of a coordinated effort to deceive and mislead. It is dangerous and deplorable.
"Pilatus Bank echoes the Labour Party’s calls for my prosecution for having fought for truth and justice to prevail. They are the ones that must be brought to justice.
"Pilatus Bank thinks that their threats will stop me from doing my work. They shall be sorely disappointed," Mr Casa concluded.
In a reply, Pilatus Holdings said Mr Casa was evidently confusing an invitation with a threat "perhaps conveniently".
"Mr Casa is a fervent believer in justice and yet he needs to be reminded of one of its most basic principles - that the presumption of innocence applies to everyone not only to those he chooses to defend," Pilatus said.
It said Mr Casa’s words and media stunts could not be taken seriously any longer and to save him further public embarrassment "we again extend our open invitation for him to take the first step to repair the damages he has caused," it said.
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