The European Central Bank revoked the bank’s licence, and this was announced by Malta’s Financial Services Authority.
Following the claims of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia of the bank processing corrupt payments, the EU had been investigating the case. Caruana Galizia reported on Malta for the Panama Papers investigation into offshore accounts which conceal secret payments to politicians and other powerful figures.
She accused Pilatus Bank of various crimes, including dubious payments to senior Maltese and Azerbaijani figures.
In March 2018, the authorities froze the bank’s assets after Nejad’s arrest. Based on an indictment filed in a federal court in Manhattan, he is accused of involvement in a scheme to evade US economic sanctions against Iran.
The BBC reported that Maltese FSA recommended withdrawing the bank’s licence in June, but the process took longer than expected because of legal obstacles, the ECB has said.
Allegedly, the bank was used as a conduit for Azerbaijani money making its way into Europe, while linked to allegations that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s wife Michelle secretly received graft payments. There has been no evidence of this claim however.
In a tweet, former opposition leader Simon Busuttil said: “Good news that Pilatus Bank has finally been shut down. But this is two years too late. Meanwhile Malta’s name has been tarnished and the people who pushed for this bank to be given a licence and even had bank accounts there are still running our country.”