Pilatus Bank have said that the conclusions of the Egrant inquiry have proven that the bank was the victim of a "witch-hunt" led by "racist" politicians. 

Pilatus Holding Ltd said on Friday that the bank was considering legal avenues of redress, in a statement which slammed the financial regulator, the MFSA. 

The Egrant inquiry “laid bare the political machinations that have destroyed Pilatus Bank without good cause and absent any basis in fact,” they said.

Read: MFSA freezes Pilatus Bank's assets

Its conclusions "completely vindicated" Pilatus Bank’s position and continued assertions of innocence.

The Malta Financial Services Authority last March froze all the assets of the bank, hours after its chairman was arrested in the US. It also suspended Mr Hashemi Nejad's chairmanship.

Last month, it announced that it had formally filed with the European Central Bank a recommendation for the withdrawal of the bank’s banking licence.

The European Banking Authority has censured Malta's Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit over its handling of Pilatus Bank. In a decision announced last month, the EBA said the FIAU broke European anti-money laundering rules because it "failed to conduct an effective supervision of Pilatus Bank" and declined to impose sanctions on Pilatus. The FIAU has expressed serious reservations about the EBA probe.  

'Witch-hunt'

Pilatus Holdings have now condemned the MFSA, saying it had wrongly applied the law and moved to halt its operations in an attempt to cripple it.

“It is now apparent that the actions of the MFSA have clearly been motivated by considerations which are beyond regulatory affairs for which MFSA is responsible and thus, ultra vires its regulatory powers. No other bank operating in Malta has ever been treated in this appalling, discriminatory and heavy-handed manner.

“The MFSA has acted with a reckless disregard for the financial stability and viability of the bank and it has not paused to consider the interests of its account holders and other stakeholders. In our view, there can be no doubt that the underlying motivation for this witch-hunt against Pilatus Bank stems from the fact that the bank was chaired by a successful Iranian businessman that the short-sighted and racist politicians of Malta are determined to see fail.”

Read: Pilatus depositors threaten to sue MFSA over €80m

Individuals within the Maltese regulators sought to discredit and attack Pilatus by deliberately and maliciously leaking confidential materials and instigating the misuse and misinterpretation of that material in the media, the lawyers claimed.

They added that both the local and international media were complicit in spreading “this fake news”, without fact-checking or providing any balance to their reporting.

Prior to such "attempted frame-ups" by certain Maltese politicians and individuals within the regulatory bodies, Pilatus Bank was among the most successful banks in Malta and in Europe with exceptional reputation and regulatory standards, they said.

“There has been no attempt by the Maltese regulators to correct the record, and accept their rush to judgment driven by their political affiliations. Now that the allegations against Pilatus Bank have conclusively been shown to be unfounded, false and targeted, the stakeholders of Pilatus Bank are exploring avenues for legal redress within Malta and internationally, and will pursue such action imminently and to the fullest extent possible for the tremendous damages caused by such reckless and deliberate misconduct,” Pilatus Holdings said.

READ: 'Egrant inquiry clear me and Keith Schembri too' - Konrad Mizzi

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