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US financial crime consultant questions legality of Ali Sadr’s release

The US government’s decision to drop the case – after a guilty verdict – coincides with a prisoner swap negotiated between the US and Iran.

pilatus bank
Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad is facing up to 125 years in jail over charges of money laundering and evading US sanctions.

A US financial crime consultant is questioning the legality of the US Attorney’s move to dismiss the case against Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, saying that federal rules simply do not allow it following a guilty verdict.

Kenneth Rijock said federal rules only allow the government to dismiss a criminal case before adjudication. Iranian Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, the former owner of Pilatus Bank in Malta, was found guilty on five counts of bank fraud and breaching US sanctions against Iran.

The US government has now decided to drop the case against the millionaire on issues related to information in possession of the US Attorney that had not been disclosed to Ali Sadr’s defence team.

This decision will mean that Ali Sadr, former owner of infamous Pilatus Bank in Malta, will walk free. It led to calls by the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation for his extradition to Malta – despite evidence, the Maltese authorities have taken no action against Ali Sadr or his bank, which was closed down by the European Banking Authority in June 2018.

The Opposition has backed this call, as has civil society organisation Repubblika.

Rijock said the decision by the US courts ignores the rule of law. “Whether politics has trumped (no pun intended) adherence to the rules remains a question we need to answer. The Court should not sign that order for it is improper and ignores the rule of law.”

Rule 48 of Federal US law, “permits the filing of a dismissal of an indictment, information or complaint…the United States attorney may file a nolle prosequi between the time when the defendant is bound over by the United States commissioner and the finding of an indictment.”

Rijock says the US Attorney is seeking a quiet way out of the mess. Saying “truth seems to have taken a holiday” in this new twist to the tale, he insists Ali Sadr should be serving a prison sentence, and not getting away with his crimes through “a back door solution”.

Meanwhile, news emerged of an American national who returned to his homeland following his release from an Iranian prison. Michael White, 48, had been held in an Iranian prison for nearly two years.

Iran’s move to free White and the US decision to let doctor Majid Taherivisit Iran, appeared a rare instance of US-Iranian cooperation. A White House spokesman said White’s release may lead to an opening in the bitter relationship.

Earlier this month President Trump announced his safe return to US soil. President Donald Trump confirmed the news on Twitter, saying, “I am to (sic) happy announce that navy veteran, Michael White, who has been detained by Iran for 683 days, is on a Swiss plane that just left Iranian airspace. We expect him to be home with his family in America very soon.”

Earlier in May, Al Jazeera reported how Tehran was keen on ‘swap talks’ amid fears that prisoners held in either country might contract and fall ill because of the coronavirus.

Last year, the two countries did manage to reach a rare agreement to swap prisoners when US graduate student Xiyue Wang was released from Iran while the US released Iranian national Massoud Soleimani who was accused of breaching sanctions.

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