‘Unprecedented’ new book a ‘contribution to solving Pilatus puzzle’

NGO Repubblika’s President Robert Aquilina released previously unpublished court documents, emails and reports, including a 400-page independent financial investigation, on Pilatus Bank’s shady dealings in his new book Pilatus: A Laundromat Bank in Europe.

The 700-plus page book chronicles the story of the bank set up in Malta in 2013 by Iranian businessman Ali Sadr Hasheminejad and how investigations into reports of money laundering by the bank were buried and hushed up.

The book includes previously unpublished emails and documentation which Aquilina said show that the police and attorney general Victoria Buttigieg not only chose not to prosecute Pilatus officials, but created reasons “a posteriori” which would justify their impunity.

Answering questions by The Shift, Aquilina said he expects pushback for the book’s publication, in the same way he came across “enormous hostility and an illiberal attitude” by the authorities during its writing

He however expressed hope saying that his team will “persevere through whatever is thrown our way”.

Aquilina described the book as “an act of justice and determination”, saying that while he “did not solve the puzzle,” the information included should contribute significantly toward a clearer picture of the Pilatus Bank saga.

Part of the published documentation, forming roughly two-thirds of the book’s contents, includes police emails which Aqulina said he copied by hand from unnamed police sources. Aquilina said the emails show “not only a u-turn in the prosecution (of the Pilatus Bank officials) but a cover up” for their absolvement.

The book also includes a 400-page investigation by international financial consultancy firm Duff & Phelps (now Kroll) published in full. Aquilina claimed that the damning investigation was buried by investigative officials.

In the book, Aquilina also details how the 600,000 page inquiry by Magistrate Ian Farrugia into the bank, was ignored by Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà and Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg, with Buttigieg asking for the Magistrate to sign each page, front and back.

The magisterial inquiry was kickstarted by former assistant police Commissioner Ian Abdilla’s inaction when faced with a criminal complaint on the bank filed by the FIAU and MFSA.

Aquilina’s book launch was met with a standing ovation from the packed Aula Magna

During the book’s launch, Aquilina said that given the state’s complete capture by corruption, his “guiding principle is not the law, but justice”, a statement which was met by a standing ovation from the packed conference room.

At the end of the launch, former opposition MP Jason Azzopardi said that throughout Malta’s political history “there has been no precedent set for this book”.

He went on to explain deficiencies in Malta’s “archaic” legal framework relating to the abuse of power in office and obstruction of justice, noting that since these are not recognised criminal offenses, it would be difficult to prosecute the highly unethical practices chronicled in the book.

The launch was held at the Aula Magna at the University of Malta Campus in Valletta. The book, published by Midsea Books, was edited by Martin Bugelli and includes illustrations by Mark Schembri.


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1 month ago

The only way to fight this dictatorship is to go public with the evidence.
The way was shown by Dr. Jason Azzopardi with Dr. Simon Busuttil’s boxes of evidence given to a magistrate , with the Labour criminals shouting Empty Pizza Boxes.
Now , this time , better still, the evidence is in the Public Domain.
Now we all know the dirt , spin , frame ups , protection of criminals Kastilja had organised.
EGRANT , will ultimately turn up .

Albert Beliard
Albert Beliard
1 month ago

Although I have not yet seen Robert’s new book on the infamous Pilatus Bank playing as just one layer of the corruption scheme, most of the ‘puzzle’ has already been solved in understanding their role in the Malta Laundromat – but there is more to include to see the entirety of the scheme involving massive money laundering and sanctions evasions violations against the Iranian and Venezuelan regimes.

1 month ago

Once again it shows that Repubblika has the means to point out the foul play by the present government, but apart from its public activities and publications, being outside Parliament makes it even harder to change anything.

Maybe Mr Azzopardi and Mr Aquilina might consider to contest the next GE as independent candidates to gain seats in Malta’s Parliament, unless Repubblika takes the step necessary to bring about a change in Maltese politics and transforms itself into a party or movement that contests elections, so that those people who support them have the chance to vote for them.

As much as one can appreciate the efforts by both persons and also those not named but working with Repubblika, there is no other way than to get into Parliament in order to adjust the legal means by changing the laws through parliamentary procedures, so that those issues pointed out in this article are legally banned from happening again. And if such things would happen again, there would be legal means to deal with it.

I am convinced that Mr Azzopardi is an asset to Repubblika, based on his professional experiences and keeping up the standards he stands for. It also appears to me that Mr Azzopardi and Mr Aquilina are a good team in working together and that’s the way forward.

This article also shows that there are more people supporting Repubblika than it might meet the eye and I would conclude that they would also vote for Repubblika in elections. So, it remains up to Repubblika whether they take up the trust put into them by people and go the path Repubblika avoids to take. There is a difference between the PN and Repubblika and that difference is mainly to find in trust, where the level towards the PN as a party might be on a lower scale than that towards Repubblika.

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