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UK fintech clients’ money trapped after Satabank freeze

Clients of a London based financial technology company are unable to access money

Satabank Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat inaugurated the premises of the Satabank in 2016. Photo: DOI / Clifton Fenech

Clients of a London based financial technology company are unable to access money in their accounts after the Malta Financial Services Authority suspended all activities at Satabank plc.

Customers of LeoPay, which provides international money transfers and multi-currency bank accounts,  started complaining that that they could not longer make payments while others had their accounts closed, a report in The Financial Times said.

Satabank plc has been directed by the Malta Financial Services Authority to refrain, cease and desist from taking further deposits into the accounts of its current customers, The Times of Malta reported.

The company is owned by iCard AD, a Bulgarian company founded by Christo Georgiev, co-owner of Satabank. Four months ago, Satabank was fined €60,500 as an administrative penalty by the MFSA for the bank’s failure to abide with banking laws relating to risk management.

LeoPay allows non-residents to have a de facto European bank account that can be used for salary payments and other day-to-day spending, but its customer deposits are not covered by deposit guarantee schemes, The Financial Times said.

Ernst & Young have been appointed as a “competent person” to “assume control of the bank’s business”.

LeoPay’s website was updated on Wednesday morning to remove all reference to SataBank.  Previous terms and conditions documents that have since been removed showed that its accounts were previously provided through a SataBank “e-money account”.

LeoPay said in a statement: “We can confirm a limited number of LeoPay customers are affected by an issue which means they cannot transfer funds from their accounts. This is because the deposits in these accounts, which total less than 1 per cent of LeoPay’s customer base, are held with SataBank. The remaining 99 per cent of customers are unaffected. We would like to apologise to those impacted customers and reassure them that we are working hard to rectify the situation. We would like to reiterate that there is no liquidity issue at LeoPay.”

LeoPay is listed on several internet directories as sharing an office in Canary Wharf and phone number with myPos, an FCA-regulated payments company co-founded by Mr Georgiev. MyPos said the two companies had never shared an office. Companies House records show that until earlier this year LeoPay was owned by Liechtenstein-based myPos AG.

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