Pilatus top management emails not available

FILE PHOTO: Whitehall Mansions, within which the offices of Pilatus Bank are situated, is seen in Ta' Xbiex, Malta, October 28, 2017. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/File Photo

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Court appointed experts did not examine the emails of any of the senior management team at Pilatus Bank.

Forensic accountants at Harbinson Forensics were tasked to analyse any digital information which was seized during the inquiry. This included digital information which was seized during the inquiries into Willerby and Hillman led by Magistrates Natasha Galea Sciberras and Josette Demicoli respectively.

This information was made publicly available after Dr Adrian Delia, leader of the Partit Nazzjonalista published the full report of the Egrant Inquiry some thirty hours after he obtained a copy of the report following a long legal battle.

The Egrant Inquiry Report was passed on to the Prime Minister in July 2018. The Attorney General Peter Grech contested in Court the request of the Leader of the Opposition to be given a copy.

Stored in cloud; stayed in cloud

In the report prepared by Harbinson Forensics, the experts explained that the emails of Pilatus Bank are stored on the cloud and these were not available to them.

The report states that, while some of the staff at Pilatus had their emails backed onto their laptops, and these were examined by the team, this ‘did not include emails of any of the senior management team at Pilatus’.

Among the Pilatus Bank’s senior management, a bank now defunct, one finds Iranian owner and chairman Ali Sadr Hasheminejad who is currently on bail in the US while facing charges on money laundering and violation of US economic sanctions.

The forensic accountants were tasked with analysing printed and digital documents to establish whether the allegations made by slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia could be confirmed.

The two teams, one represented by Miroslava Milenovic and Harbinson Forensics, had printed and digital documents which were seized from Pilatus Bank and Nexia BT, as well as other documents from other testimonies. The forensic teams were also instructed to obtain other information which could be verified from international sources which was relevant to the scope of the magisterial inquest.

It transpires from the Egrant inquiry report, that in seeking to preserve data from Pilatus Bank and Nexia BT which were listed as two key (not sole) stakeholders one of the main considerations was to ensure minimal disruption for these two operators. Even if in certain instances it meant that the integrity of data was put at needless risk.

In the case of Pilatus, whilst the IT expert recommended that in order to preserve data from backups (without risking them being changed) these be taken offline. However, representatives from the Malta Financial Services Authority are cited as saying that such an approach would, even if risking the integrity of the inquiry’s data, prejudice the bank’s compliance with licensing obligations.

Sources from the financial services industry contacted by Newsbook.com.mt, however expressed doubts about the rationale for this given the temporary nature of the measure and that the bank was sealed and transactions meant to have been stopped.

Ongoing inquiries

Willerby Trade Inc was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands on 19 March 2013 by Brian Tonna. This was a week after Joseph Muscat and Keith Schembri took up their official positions. Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras is gathering evidence about the reasons behind two alleged €50,000 payments that passed between Tonna and Schembri. Analysis by the FIAU had found reasonable suspicion that the payments were intended as a kickback to Schembri on passport sales by Nexia BT.

Magistrate Josette Demicoli is analysing €600,000 worth of payments that allegedly passed from Schembri to Adrian Hillman who was a managing director at the Allied Group. These payments passed through domestic and offshore accounts, bank accounts in the names of domestic and offshore companies and through a domestic investment firm.

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