Saturday, July 2, 2022


The non-governmental organization REPUBBLIKA, a longtime proponent of reform, has filed a Complaint, in Magistrate's Court in Malta, against the Police Commissioner, ANGELO GAFA, for an order compelling him to arrest certain senior officers and directors of PILATUS BANK, shuttered by the European Central Bank for money laundering. The Police, in response, have asked the court to reject the petition, on procedural, rather than substantive, grounds. They have not replied to the merits of the Complaint.

 This is a summary of the document, which was filed in the Maltese language, using an unofficial English translation, excluding the documents attached as exhibits, and incorporated by reference as if fully set forth therein.

A Magisterial Inquiry had found, as a matter of law, that there were a number of major crimes committed by and through the bank:

(1) Money Laundering.                                                                                                                                    

(2) Trading in Influence.                                                                                                                                 

(3) Criminal Association.                                                                                                                              

(4) False Declarations to a Public Authority.                                                                                                       

(5) The constitution, organisation or funding of an Assembly, with a view to committing criminal offenses subject to imprisonment of four years or more. (This appears to be the functional equivalent of Racketeering.)

Quoting verbatim from the text of the action, the individuals whom the Magistrate recommended commencing criminal proceedings against are:

  • Mehmet Tasli (born 22.04.1975, ID 0028278A), Pilatus Bank official (Operations Supervisor);
  • Rivera Luis Felipe (born 19.10.1981), Director and Company Secretary of Pilatus Bank;
  • Ali Sadr Hasheminejad (born 9.02.1980, Iranian Passports No Z4378901 and H95647761, Passport St Kitts and Nevis No RE0015587, Maltese ID 0128714A, Residence Permit MT 9559470), Director and effectively owner of Pilatus Bank;
  • Ghambari Hamidreza (born 24.7.1984, Passport No R0096415 of Dominican Republic), Director of the Pilatus Bank;*
  • Antoniella Gauci (born 18.12.1985, ID 0039786M), Accounting Officer, Chief Risk Officer and Acting MLRO of Pilatus Bank.

The  Magistrate had delivered the Findings of Fact and Conclusion of Law. The inquiry, which cost Maltese taxpayers over €7.5m, determined:

(A) The named individuals participated, and were complicit in, the laundering and concealment of the proceeds of crime,                                                                                                                                         \\

(B) Knowingly provided false information to Maltese banks.                                                                        (

C) Made false declarations.                                                                                                                             

(D) Promoted a Racketeering operation.                                                                                                     

(E) Were involved in criminal association.  

Repubblika logo

The Magisterial Inquiry named both former Prime Minister JOSEPH MUSCAT and his then Chief of Staff KEITH SCHEMBRI. as protectors of the criminal operations of the bank, owned by Hasheminejad. It also recommended that the EGRANT inquiry, a secret Panamanian company linked to corruption at the highest level, be reopened.

Repubblika submitted a Notitia Criminis,  a notice that a crime has been committed, to the Commissioner back in January, and again in April 2022, but to action has been taken in response to date. This means that fifteen months since the Inquiring Magistrate ordered the Commissioner and the Attorney General to prosecute the violations of Maltese Law, they have not only done nothing, but effectively refused to charge the individual named.  

Therefore, Repubblika prayed to the Court, pursuant to Article 541(1) of Chapter 9 of the Laws of Malta, that it find that grounds existed the the Complaint, after a review of the evidence submitted, to conduit the necessary proceedings, and impose a judgement accordingly.

 The document, filed by the noted Maltese attorney, Jason Azzopardi, deserves close attention by all compliance officers at financial institutions and law enforcement agencies of the Members of European Union, for it is a damning indictment of financial crime and corruption in the Republic of Malta.


* We note that GHAMBARI HAMIDREZA, listed as the bank's CEO, an Iranian national, also reportedly holds a Citizenship by Investment (CBI) passport from the Commonwealth of Dominica. Readers who require photographs of the individuals named in the Complaint  can access them here:                            Will the Officers and Directors of Malta's Pilatus Bank Now be Charged ? 

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