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MALTATODAY 16 January 2022

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4 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 16 JANUARY 2022 NEWS Sale tale quale of a vehicle The Office of the Attorney General is receiving offers for the sale tale quale of a Honda Accord, registered in 2010. Sealed offers will be received at the following address: Head Corporate Services Office of the Attorney General 53, Admiralty House, South Street Valletta, VLT1101. by NOT later than Friday 28 th January 2022. Interested parties may inspect the vehicle on Friday 21 st January 2022 at our offices between 0900hrs and 1200hrs. Offers below Eur 3,000 will not be considered. CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 Police have so far only initiat- ed action against Pilatus Bank as a financial entity, and former legal officer Claude Anna Sant Fournier, both charged with money laundering. Executing the IAWs requires joint action by the Maltese po- lice as well as the ministry of for- eign affairs. MaltaToday is informed that the warrants were issued to question the Pilatus officers for having facilitated large vol- umes of suspicious transactions through their bank, which could have had criminal origins. The transactions were not reported to the Maltese financial intelli- gence unit (FIAU) and instead laundered through the boutique bank. But since the warrants were issued, Pilatus's owners have been mounting a campaign of costly legal challenges in Amer- ican and international tribunals against the Maltese government, the European Central Bank, the financial regulator MFSA, and officials tasked with managing the shuttered bank, to extract compensation over the suspen- sion of its banking licence. Even the Egrant inquiry – an investigation requested by for- mer prime minister Joseph Mus- cat into allegations he owned a secret Panama offshore com- pany – had found red flags of money laundering inside the Ta' Xbiex bank. Specifically, a forensic review found "commonly accepted red flags for money laundering" in Pilatus transactions involving the daughters of Azerbaijan ruler Ilham Aliyev and the sons of his minister for emergency situations Kamaleddin Hey- darov, and requested roping in the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, China and Turkey for coopera- tion into the investigation. The report identified suspi- cious transactions from compa- nies owned by the Aliyev daugh- ters, such as Sahra FZCO, and the Heydarovs, to a Dubai-based company called Palma Man- agement Consulting. 117 pay- ments were made to Palma by nine companies, including Sahra FZCO, whose directors are Ali- yev's daughters Leyla and Arzu. The Aliyevas are also involved in the seven other companies: three established in UAE, two in Azerbaijan and one, Roundtree Ventures, in the British Virgin Islands. While the Egrant inquiry found no evidence of Azerbaijani mon- ey passing to Joseph Muscat or his wife, who had no bank ac- count at Pilatus, the foreign ex- perts in the Pilatus inquiry rec- ommended further investigative steps on the Egrant investiga- tion. In November 2021, finance minister Clyde Caruana assured parliament that all necessary re- sources would be offered to au- thorities if the Egrant investiga- tion had to be reopened. Pilatus Bank was shut down by the ECB and the MFSA in March 2018 after Pilatus own- er Ali Sadr Hasheminejhad was arrested by FBI at Dulles Air- port, charged with breaching sanctions against Iran when he funnelled dollar payments to his Iranian family's companies. Pilatus Bank was also fined a record €4.9 million by the FIAU for letting millions in suspect funds flow through Malta un- challenged. Since then, Pilatus's owners Alpene Ltd has been filing cases in the United States law courts against the competent persons appointed by the MFSA to man- age the shuttered banks' assets. One of the defendants, Elizabeth McCaul, a member of the ECB supervisory board, described the lawsuits as "a continuation of Sadr's scorched-earth litigation strategy", accusing owner Ali Sa- dr Hasheminejad of harassment "by pursuing irrelevant inquiries and invading communications and documents protected from disclosure." Pilatus also filed a host of cas- es in the EU's Court of Justice to challenge the suspension its banking licence. Alpene also filed for restitution and additional compensation in a case it filed against Maltese government in the World Bank's International Centre for the Set- tlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Warrants for Pilatus top brass signed but not served Left to right: Hamidreza Ghanbari, Luis Felipe Rivera, and Mehmet Tasli have international arrest warrants signed against them by Magistrate Ian Farrugia, to answer on a host of money laundering charges Pilatus and Egrant HASHEMINEJAD was arrested in Dulles Airport on US federal charges of breaching sanctions against Iran. He was convicted of having funnelled US dollar pay- ments from a Venezuelan housing project to Iranian beneficiaries that include his own family. But charges were dropped in 2021 after the US district attor- neys revealed they had withheld evidence from the Hasheminejad defence team. Hasheminejad ran a private bank in Malta, which he had licensed in 2013, and which largely dealt with millions in re- serves owned by the Azerbaijani ruling family and oligarchs. His bank was implicated in the Egrant affair, when the late journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia claimed the bank had processed a $1 million payment from the Aliyevs of Azerbaijan to the wife of former prime minister Joseph Muscat. Maria Efimova, the former Pilatus Bank employee also subject to an international arrest warrant, had claimed the money was transferred to Egrant. The allegation was disproven by a Maltese magisterial inquiry along with other allegations she made about Pilatus Bank, but by then the banks' other dealings for Azerbaijan had come under the lens of financial investiga- tors. A former FIAU manager, Jonathan Ferris, is now facing perjury charges over claims he made during the Egrant inquiry, having told the inquiring magistrate that the Panamanian company had been owned by the Labour Party, to serve as a vehicle for its electoral funds. Ferris had also claimed that a $600,000 loan transaction was made from an Azerbaijani PEP to the company Buttardi, owned by Michelle Muscat. Joseph Muscat insists he has nothing to hide from investi- gators looking to probe Egrant further. "Neither myself, nor my wife or family have anything to do with Egrant or with any transaction, as already conclud- ed by an independent inquiry," he wrote. "Someone made us go through hell based on forged signatures, and we were proved right."

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