The Laundry Man by Kenneth Rijock ( Penguin/Random House UK)

Sunday, August 9, 2020

PILATUS BANK SUING MALTA ? SOUNDS LIKE A BAD JOKE IN POOR TASTE

Pilatus Bank logo
While it is true that former Pilatus Bank Director Armin Eckermann publicly stated that he expects Pilatus Bank to sue Malta for "billions," and the topic has become a subject of conversation from time to time, surely such a case, if it ever is filed, could never succeed on the merits. Is Eckermann joking, or is there something more than meets the eye here ? (Remember, Eckermann also openly bragged, when among fellow German businessmen, that he alone vetted and approved all new bank customers. Therefore, if anyone from Pilatus belongs in prison for facilitating money laundering, he is at the top of the list).

Surely any bank that loses its charter for criminal activity, to wit: money laundering, cannot prevail in any civil suit, no matter what minor technical errors or violations that Maltese regulators or law enforcement agencies may have committed against it, on equitable grounds, such as Unclean Hands or Equitable Estoppel.  No court, applying the Rule of Law, would agree that minor infractions, even if they were committed, were of such magnitude as to excuse the bank's rampant criminal activities, which resulted in its closing for cause.

Yes, I know the argument they will make: that the American criminal case against Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, the bank's owner, was dismissed, Let me respond by stating that Pilatus Bank itself was not acquitted of money laundering, that the evidence in support of criminal activity is strong, and that Ali Sadr's deal with prosecutors, whatever it is, did NOT absolve the bank from guilt.

Also, are Malta's citizens worried that such a suit will be settled, for a large monetary sum, as the plaintiffs, bank directors and officers most likely, will blackmail or extort Malta, due to the fact that Ali Sadr paid bribes to senior government officials to get the bank charter, and current officials, protecting their political allies, do not want that information released ? That would mean admitting to multiple felonies, and who would wilingly agree to self-incrimination. That's not going to happen.

Of course, should the unthinkable happen, and a civil suit for damages is filed, Ali Sadr as the sole owner would be the only proper party plaintiff, and should he do so, his deposition would be promptley scheduled, and his arrest on money laundering charges surely would occur when he showed up in Malta. Remember, he who chooses the forum must eventually appear in person for deposition, or the case will be dismissed. He will never show up in Malta, upon pain of arrest, if not an attempt to harm him, in true Maltese style, so the risk that suit will be filed must be low. He's not coming.

A final note; any civil suit should result in the filing of a multi-billion dollar counterclaim, against all the officers & directors, for failure to effectively screen new bank customers, failure to monitor PEP bank accounts, and for allowing many millions in dirty money from Venezuela to transit the bank. what will Herr Eckermann do then, leave Malta permanently, to avoid a judgment ?

It is doubtful that Ali Sadr will want to appear in Malta for any reason, and as he is an indispensable party, no suit could survive if the Rule of Law is observed. In closing, like everything else in Malta, the Statute of Limitations will run out eventually on a possible Pilatus cause of action.








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