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European Banking Authority opens Pilatus Bank investigation

European banking watchdog opens probe into private bank at centre of money-laundering allegations

Pilatus Bank is facing scrutiny by European banking regulators following requests by the European commission and the European parliament.

According to the Guardian, the European Banking Authority is conducting “preliminary enquiries” into Pilatus Bank and will among others look into whether its licence should be revoked and examine whether the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) is able to do its job properly free from conflicts of interest.

Iranian-owned Pilatus Bank is at the centre of controversy following allegations of money-laundering by slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. The journalist had reported claims by a Russian whistleblower and former Pilatus Bank employee, Maria Efimova, that the Prime Minister’s wife was the owner of an offshore company which received money from Azerbaijan through Pilatus Bank.

Caruana Galizia was being sued in a US court by Pilatus Bank at the time of her death. The bank denied all the allegations and had accused Caruana Galizia of malice, defamation, and causing damage to the bank’s “reputation and actual and prospective economic relationships.”

The legal case was dropped after Caruana Galizia was killed in October 2017.

Last month, MEP David Casa presented further evidence of Pilatus Bank’s Anti-Money Laundering (AML) violations to the ECB.

In his letter to Supervisory Board Chair Danièle Nouy, the Maltese MEP claimed that his conclusion from the information he received was that Pilatus Bank was not merely flouting Anti-Money Laundering laws but that it has been set-up specifically for that purpose.

An expert in the field of AML that spoke to The Shift on condition of anonymity said: “Irrespective of what new evidence has come into Casa’s possession the information that is already in the public domain makes the conclusions he has come to not far fetched”.

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