The Malta Financial Services Authority has announced that Satabank plc’s banking licence has been withdrawn with immediate effect. The bank has been under investigation since 2018 on suspicions of money laundering.
Finance Minister Edward Scicluna referred to the withdrawal of the licence as a further sign of the manner in which Malta’s regulatory authorities are functioning in the fight against money laundering and the large money transactions of this bank are being withheld for further investigations.
The Minister expressed confidence in the manner in which recommendations are being implemented and pointed to the example of the actions of the MFSA and the European Central Bank that brought about the suspension of Satabank’s licence because of money laundering suspicions.
Professor Scicluna said he is hoping that before October certain investigations on money laundering will be completed and will result in Court arraignments as stipulated by Moneyval. He expressed regrets that Court proceedings in Malta are far lengthier than in other countries. He maintained the Police should not have what he described as a monopoly on prosecutions. He said this should also be done by the authority investigating economic crimes.
He also said that in certain aspects Malta is exemplary and said he has just received a letter from NIKE praising the work of Malta’s Customs Department for their work in detecting 35 containers of fake products. He said such cases also have links with criminality and money laundering and the Customs Department is serving as an example to other European Customs and Excise Departments.
During a media conference, the Finance Minister announced the extension of the moratorium on debt to help companies and families in these challenging times. He said that by end April banks had received requests from enterprises and individuals for a moratorium on a sum of €1,300 million. The extension by six months is a concession to those badly financially affected by the pandemic while banks will accept new applications from clients who because of circumstances have not been able to honour their loan obligations.
Minister Scicluna said this is being done to continue giving time on the repayment of past debts. He said that half the moratorium requests had come from commercial entities and the rest from individuals, mainly concerning home purchase loans. He reminded that the Government through the Malta Investment Bank, as part of the package, is offering a 90% guarantee on loans as part of the economic regeneration drive and includes that of commercial tax debts owed to Government.
The European Central Bank has withdrawn the licence of Satabank plc with effect from yesterday, following a recommendation by the Malta Financial Services Authority.
The Authority declared in a statement that it had appointed Ernst & Young Limited as the competent body to continue to control the entity in regard to the relevant provisions of the Banking Act until otherwise decided by the Authority.
No consumers’ deposits will continue to be returned, although the competent body will continue to process the files of consumers who until the end of June had submitted all the information in order to withdraw their funds.
The Authority also stated that the competent body would not be able to process files on which there were pending issues up to yesterday, and will not be able to revise new or additional information besides what has been submitted by 30 June.
Consumers who have been to provide instructions on payments have to submit this information as soon as possible, and by not later than 15 July.
For more information, one can visit the site of the Malta Financial Services Authority or call on Freephone 8007 4924. Any communication with Satabank is to be made via email on [email protected]