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Ali Sadr Has A Case Against Malta
Businessman Sayed Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad, who filed a complaint against Malta at the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), experienced in May his first small victory in the case. The arbitration institution determined that Sadr’s claims against the mishandling of his bank by the Maltese financial authorities are legitimate. Pilatus Bank, owned by Ali Sadr, has been in a complete state of disablement since July 2021.
In July 2021, Sadr filed his complaint through his Hong Kong-based company Alpene Limited, which is the owner of Pilatus Bank. He claimed that Pilatus Bank was wrongfully shut down by the Maltese authorities. Sadr alleges that the only justification that Malta had for his removal as the bank’s manager was the indictment against Sadr in the U.S for violating the U.S sanctions on Iran. Sadr affirms that this case is fundamentally unrelated to his endeavors with Pilatus Bank and that the accusations in the U.S are in reference to actions that allegedly occurred before Pilatus Bank was even founded. Moreover, the case against him in the U.S. was eventually dismissed, so it was all based on unfounded accusations.
On May 23, 2022, the ICSID determined that Ali Sadr has a legitimate argument at least legitimate enough for the arbitration institution to continue with the proceedings. This not only affects Ali Sadr’s personal situation. Currently, the bank’s assets, which include the accounts of the bank’s clientele, are frozen for several years. The ruling sheds a concerning light on Malta and its authorities. A red flag should be raised on whether the decision to pursue a case on Pilatus was made solely to target Pilatus Bank and specifically Ali Sadr, without the proper cause.
The claim that Malta’s authorities tried to use the Pilatus case as a scapegoat is not new to the Maltese public. The case that the Maltese authorities have created around Pilatus Bank was centered around the bank’s alleged lack of oversight on some transactions. Further inspections into the regulations that allowed banks all over Malta to perform transactions with occasional minimal supervision show the same authorities that accused Pilatus, are those who promoted these kinds of deals.
Until recently, Malta was on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list. A country can’t enter such a situation simply because of actions made by a single bank. The Maltese financial authorities, namely the MFSA and FIAU, have nurtured and promoted a culture of corruption within their gates, which was the main reason these authorities looked at Malta in the first place. For Malta to reach a place where it is clean from corruption, these bodies must perform inner inspections of their activities.
Malta had the eyes of EU financial bodies checking its dirty laundry, so the authorities felt forced to find a scapegoat. According to Sadr, Pilatus was chosen to fill exactly this role. The ICSID has concluded that Sadr may be right in his claim that Malta personally targeted him.
Only time will tell whether he is correct. What’s sure is that Malta’s financial authorities have another reason to be worried right now.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes