The Malta Independent 14 July 2024, Sunday
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European Central Bank withdraws Satabank licence – MFSA

Wednesday, 1 July 2020, 15:16 Last update: about 5 years ago

The European Central Bank has withdrawn the licence of Satabank plc, the Malta Financial Services Authority said today.

The announcement came following the MFSA’s recommendation to the European Central Bank to withdraw the bank’s licence, a request that was accepted on 30 June 2020, with effect from that day.

Ernst & Young Limited, the competent person appointed by the authority in relation to Satabank plc, remains in control of Satabank in terms of the relevant provisions of the Banking Act as communicated by Public Notice 87/2018 dated 20 October 2018 and will remain so appointed until otherwise decided by the authority.

Save as explained below, all the regulatory measures taken in relation to the entity remain in full force and applicable until further notice by the authority, the MFSA said.

Except to the extent provided in this paragraph, the controlled process for the return of customer deposits which was being carried out (as first communicated in Public Notice 90/2018 dated 24 October 2018 (link) and in subsequent notices on the same subject) will not proceed further.

The competent person will continue to process customer files where complete information required for the return of funds process has been received by 30 June 2020. The competent person will not be able to process files where pending queries remain outstanding as at 30 June 2020. The competent person will not be able to accept or review any new and/or additional information that is submitted after 30 June 2020.

Customers who have been requested to provide payment instruction details by the competent person are to submit this information at their earliest but not later than 15 July 2020.

Upon its appointment, the competent person collected data and carried out customer risk analysis as required for the purposes of understanding the assets and liabilities of the bank. A controlled process for the return of customer funds was carried out on the basis of analysis conducted by the Competent Person upon submission of documentation by customers. The Competent Person also conducted customer reviews and where appropriate compiled and filed suspicious transactions reports (STRs) as required and responded to requests made by the relevant authorities including the FIAU and the Police.

Satabank was placed under the charge of Ernst & Young in October 2018 by the MFSA after a joint investigation by the authority and the FIAU had found shortcomings in the bank's anti-money laundering procedures. As a result, all of the accounts held at the bank were effectively frozen, before a controlled return of funds to the account owners was slowly carried out.

The bank was fined a mammoth €3 million in July last year by the FIAU over breaches of money laundering laws.

It is the second time in as many years that the ECB has withdrawn a Maltese bank's license: Pilatus Bank suffered the same fate in November 2018. 

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