The Malta Independent 30 November 2022, Wednesday
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Repubblika publishes arrest warrants for Pilatus Bank officials

Marc Galdes Friday, 30 September 2022, 11:05 Last update: about 3 months ago

NGO Repubblika has presented authenticated copies of International and European arrest warrants against Pilatus Bank officials in court.

The copies of these documents were presented in court by the president of Repubblika, Robert Aquilina, on Friday morning in a case against the Attorney General.

The case is being heard by Mr Justice Christian Falzon Scerri.

These arrest warrants were signed by Magistrate Ian Farrugia on 24 February 2021, he said. It was previously revealed in sections of the press that international arrest warrants for Pilatus officials were issued by Malta through Interpol at the end of January 2022.

The warrants were signed three months after a €7.5 million magisterial inquiry into Pilatus Bank concluded.

The officials include Pilatus Bank owner Seyed Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, Hamidreza Ghanbari, Luis Felipe Rivera, Mehmet Tasli and Hamidreza Ghanbari.

The European Central Bank revoked the bank's licence in 2018, two years after it was first implicated in alleged money laundering breaches.

During a press conference outside the courts on Friday morning, Aquilina said that these documents mean that any of these members, wherever they are in the world, must be arrested and brought to Malta.

He said that these documents were passed on to him in the last few hours.

Last July, Aquilina had said that one of the bank's officials, Tasli, was in court on 20 October 2021, but he was not arrested even though Farrugia had signed the arrest warrant.

Aquilina said that he had presented copies in his writing about a month ago because he did not want to reveal his source. On Friday, he was able to present the photocopies without revealing his source.

He also clarified that these documents were true because he authenticated them as a notary and he swore during court.

Aquilina said that he could not understand how the police are not executing their own warrants when it was the police who requested the magisterial inquiry.

Aquilina said that the fact that he got his hands on the inquiry meant that there were people who were seeking justice.

Aquilina said that Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg asked the court to issue a sentence on the preliminary exceptions before she testifies. However, the judge rejected this request because he felt that this case is of a "serious nature."

Following the press conference, Aquilina placed a copy of the documents at the Daphne Caruana Galizia memorial, commemorating her fight for justice.

PN reacts

In reaction to this case, Nationalist Party (PN) spokesperson for justice Karol Aquilina called for attorney general Victoria Buttigieg to resign from her role.

He said that this case continues to confirm that the attorney general is "abusing her post and damaging the institutions of the attorney general."

He said that it is unacceptable for the Attorney General to take "secret decisions" that hinder or even nullify the work carried out by the magisterial inquiry.

Aquilina said that the opposition is proposing that the person who shall occupy the role of the attorney general should be decided by a two-thirds majority vote in parliament after a public call for expressions of interest.

Furthermore, he criticised the Minister for Justice, Jonathan Attard for his lack of action and said that because of this, Attard was an accomplice of the attorney general.

He said that Attard was ignoring his responsibility by making the "ridiculous excuse" that the institutions should be left alone to work.

"In his own words, the Minister for Justice is admitting that he is in his position for nothing," Aquilina said.


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