Satabank has contacted all personal account holders resident in Malta with deposits of up to €15,000 and will next week start to contact all personal account holders not resident in Malta holding accounts with similar balances, the Malta Financial Services Authority said.

In a statement, the authority said corporate account holders will be contacted on a staggered basis to start the process for the controlled release of funds.

Clients would be requested to provide the relevant information to facilitate the process based on a risk-based approach.

Accounts at Satabank, a small international bank, were effectively frozen by the Malta Financial Services Authority last month, with EY (formerly Ernst and Young) appointed to administer the bank’s assets in “the best interests of depositors”.

The move had come after a joint inspection and audit by the MFSA and Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit had found shortcomings in the bank’s anti-money laundering procedures.

Depositors have reportedly slipped into “a state of desperation” after they became unable to access their own funds.

On November 23, the MFSA said Satabank's corporate clients were to be offered bridge loans to help them pay their bills while their funds at the troubled bank remained frozen. 

The authority said on Thursday, the Central Bank of Malta and the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit were working very closely with the MFSA throughout this process.

“It is in the interest of Satabank customers and the Maltese financial services sector that we demonstrate our ability to work through this in a professional manner, the MFSA said.

It added that in the meantime, the hardship fund will continue to support local businesses to pay employee salaries and other critical expenses.

Satabank has been working closely with the MFSA and other authorities to achieve the best possible outcome for customers, the authority said.

It added that this was a complex and unprecedented situation which required a carefully calibrated approach to safeguard the integrity of Malta as a financial jurisdiction.

“The bank continues to fulfil all its capital and liquidity requirements. Safeguarding depositors has and continues to be the priority for the MFSA,” it said.



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