Investigations tied to the 2016 Panama Papers are still rolling heads. As one of the victims, Pilatus Bank officially shut down on license withdrawal by the European Central Bank. Reportedly, the bank involved itself in an elaborate scheme to launder money. A number of leaked FIAU reports also allege that the bank had a role in high level corruption.
In particular, the ECB arrived at the decision after the United States charged a former chairman of the bank. Specifically, the charges related to money laundering and bank fraud, Reuters reports. Further, the publication reveals that the bank was under investigations by investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
General and systematic shortcomings
In particular, the journalist suspected that the lender processed corrupt payments for senior Azeri and Maltese figures. However, the journalist died in a car bomb attack before she could wind up her investigations.
Besides the allegations, the ECB conducted its own investigations on the bank especially after the journalist’s death, Malta Independent reports. It found general and systematic shortcomings in the application of anti-money laundering directives by the bank.
Pilatus Bank has made headlines for a while now since various leaks shone the firm in a bad light. The firm is accused of not complying with banking regulations and even abetting money laundering.
Pilatus Bank officially shuts too little too late
Malta’s Nationalist Party insists that the bank’s closure was long overdue. In a statement, the party claimed the scandal eroded the country’s sound reputation. Members of the party observe that the issue is more serious due to the fact that the bank operated legally.
Pilatus bank had official licenses from the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) and Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA). As a result, this implies that the regulators are not performing their duties properly.
Even as Pilatus Bank officially shuts down, the majority reaction is that of relief. Many people expected the bank to face the axe long ago. An editorial by Malta Independent claims that the closure is too little too late. “The Pilatus Bank chapter may now be closed but the sector is still threading on dangerous grounds,” the editorial proclaims.