A €327,500 fine issued against the shuttered Satabank has been slashed to just €68,000, the FIAU said.
In an announcement on its website on Tuesday, the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit said that an appeals court had scaled back the hefty fine that was originally imposed on the controversial bank back in 2018.
The court ruled that while the agency’s enforcement decision had been justified, the fine was too high for the legal provisions which had been breached.
The fine had been imposed after the bank had failed to reply to requests made by the FIAU within the stipulated timeframes and had handed over incomplete and incorrect information.
The 2018 fine is separate from another €3.7 million fine that the FIAU had hit the bank with the following year.
That fine too was significantly scaled back to €851,000 in 2020 after another court of appeal also ruled that the penalty was too severe.
Satabank long on authorities' radar
The bank had been on the regulators’ radar ever since a joint inspection by the Malta Financial Services Authority and the FIAU in 2018 found extremely weak structures in place to prevent its clients from using it to launder potential proceeds of criminal activity.
This had led regulators to come down hard on the bank.
All 12,000 of Satabank’s accounts were effectively frozen by the Malta Financial Services Authority in 2019, with EY (formerly Ernst and Young) appointed to administer the bank’s assets in “the best interests of depositors”.
Police and financial regulators then moved in to comb through suspicious transactions with potential links to fuel smuggling, drug trafficking and trade with sanctioned countries.
They investigated billions of euros in suspicious transactions through Satabank.
Since then, more than 300 reports of suspicious transactions at Satabank worth in excess of €130 million have been flagged by experts tasked with reviewing the lender.
The bank subsequently lost its banking license.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us