Central Bank governor Edward Scicluna is not worthy of his position, the Nationalist Party said on Wednesday, hitting out at the former minister for having defended the now-defunct Pilatus Bank.
The bank was fined a record €4.9 million for “serious and systemic failures” to follow anti-money laundering laws.
In a notification on its website on Tuesday, the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) said the bank’s lax approach to due diligence on its customers was of particular concern.
The FIAU’s administrative penalty comes almost three years after Pilatus Bank had its licence withdrawn.
Scicluna, who was appointed to the head of the Central Bank late last year, served as Finance Minister at the time – a post he occupied since 2013.
In a statement, the PN said the FIAU’s findings showed how the bank allowed the majority of its clients and their millions to pass through it without the necessary checks.
This, it said, confirmed that the Labour government had turned a blind eye to money laundering and financial crime.
In the statement, PN MPs Mario de Marco and Kristy Debono said the Opposition wanted to highlight how Scicluna used to defend the bank “by all means necessary”.
Scicluna had also attacked the European Commission, they said, claiming that Brussels was targeting the bank because of its small size.
“The FIAU investigation into Pilatus shows that the bank used by [former chief of staff] Keith Schembri, the right hand man of [former prime minister] Joseph Muscat, would not ask any questions about millions in transactions from places like the United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan, that coincidentally are at the centre of scandals that have destroyed our country’s reputation,” the MPs said.
As minister responsible for the financial regulator, Scicluna had the final responsibility over the banking system and not only did he not act but he defended the institution until the end, they said.
“Pilatus Bank’s scandal-riddled story is symptomatic of the leadership under the Labour government in recent years,” the MPs said.
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