The owner of the now-defunct Pilatus Bank, Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, made use of four St Kitts & Nevis passports and used five different names, as well as two different dates of birth, when conducting international business, according to US financial crime consultant Kenneth Rijock.
Rijock, who has been closely following Ali Sadr’s case in the US, noted that the former Head of Pilatus Bank in Malta, also had his name changed legally. This was reported to Companies House in the UK, linked to his British company Pilatus Capital.
Ali Sadr was arrested in the US in March 2018 and charged with money laundering and breaching US sanctions against Iran by funnelling more than US$115 million paid under a Venezuelan construction contract through the US financial system.
Rijock went on to list some other noteworthy tactics employed by Ali Sadr, revealed in the US case or through investigations by the Maltese press. Besides the five names and the two different dates of birth, Ali Sadr held residency permits or visas for the UK, US, UAE, Belarus and Switzerland.
While he claimed to be a full time resident in the US, his filings in other countries claimed residency elsewhere. “These suspicious tactics, which he artfully employed to confuse or frustrate any investigation, are more the hallmark of a successful money launderer, rather than the bank CEO that he professes to be,” Rijock said on his financial crime site.
He added that a number of other individuals in the Pilatus Bank case were also known to have links to Iranian intelligence agencies.
Pilatus Bank first came into the spotlight after journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia reported on the bank’s links to money laundering, kickbacks to Maltese politicians and large transfers to members of the Azerbaijani ruling elite.
After her assassination in October 2017, it emerged that Ali Sadr had started libel proceedings against Caruana Galizia “to protect his reputation” in Arizona, demanding compensation of US$40 million.
The Shift reported that government inaction on Pilatus Bank had cost taxpayers at least €345,000 as the government issued a direct order for the “review and assessment services” in relation to the bank, according to information published in the government gazette.
The direct order was awarded on 20 September 2018 when Pilatus Bank still had its license despite calls from the European banking watchdog to withdraw it. To date, no further information on the investigation, or any findings, have come to light or been made public.
The European Banking Authority had expressed “significant concerns” over the Malta Financial Services Authority’s handling of authorisation and supervisor practices relating to Pilatus Bank.
The European Central bank withdrew Pilatus Bank’s licence in November 2018.
Ali Sadr had acquired a St Kitts & Nevis passport through Henley and Partners, the concessionaires for Malta’s cash for passports scheme.