The Malta Independent 8 December 2022, Thursday
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Pilatus Bank: Police in process of issuing international arrest warrants

Sabrina Zammit Tuesday, 12 July 2022, 11:22 Last update: about 6 months ago

The police are in the process of issuing international arrest warrants in connection with its investigation into Pilatus Bank, police commissioner Angelo Gafa said.

Answering a question by The Malta Independent at the end of a Mass celebrating the anniversary of the police corps, Gafa said that after police investigations, both the bank and its money laundering reporting officer are facing charges in court.

The bank and Claude-Ann Sant Fournier are facing charges of alleged money laundering activities. The European Central Bank had revoked the bank’s licence in 2018, two years after it was first implicated in alleged money laundering breaches.

“There are then persons against whom, with the tools available, an international arrest warrant can be issued,” Gafa said. “We are currently in that stage.”

In a clarification issued on Tuesday evening, the police said that when Gafa said that "We are currently in that stage" he was referring to the "international arrest warrant stage, which is a tool which investigators have in a process which involves foreign jurisdictions and therefore takes time."

"Nowhere was it said that the warrant is yet to be issued, as was given the interpretation," the Police said.

Asked why the police does not press charges against politicians who are implicated in illicit behaviour, Gafa said that it is wrong to say that the police does not take politicians to court.

“I do not need to mention names,” he said. “Everybody knows who they are. The facts and our actions speak for themselves.”

Last week NGO Repubblika filed a judicial letter against the Attorney General accusing the State prosecutor of persistently refusing to charge a number of high-ranking individuals recommended for prosecution in the conclusions of the magisterial inquiry into Pilatus Bank. It said a magisterial inquiry had recommended police action against other individuals, and had spoken of possible trading in influence by former OPM chief of staff and former bank chairman Ali Sadr. Despite this, the police had only charged the bank and one employee, Repubblika said. 

The NGO said this refusal was unreasonable and showed bad faith on the part of the AG. “The defendant’s decision, in effect, not to charge or prosecute…as they had been ordered by the inquiring magistrate in March 2021 is exactly the opposite to a ‘reasonable’ decision,” reads the judicial letter.

Gafa said that the police complaints board is still investigating why Iosif Galea, who was arrested in Italy, had been allowed to leave Malta freely.

Galea made headlines in May 2022 when he was arrested in Italy over a German European Arrest Warrant linked to a tax investigation. A separate European Arrest Warrant was issued by the Maltese Authorities in connection to an alleged leak of information from the gaming authority, but it was reportedly issued after his arrest in Italy.

The Police Force has been under fire after Galea was allowed to travel out of Malta, despite the German arrest warrant having been issued last year. An inquiry by the Police Complaints Board into this matter was launched.

The board is completely independent of the police force, Gafa said, and any questions about the investigation should be directed to them.

We went to this board specifically for the investigation to be completely transparent and autonomous from the police, Gafa said.

Sharing Gafa's comment to this newsroom, Repubblika President Robert Aquilina said that "since the Police Commissioner and Attorney General refuse to do their jobs on their own initiative, us at Repubblika make them do what they should be doing by law.  We will make sure the institutions work, whether they want to or not."

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