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EU watchdog criticises Malta for anti-money laundering shortcomings

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By Reuters

<p><span class="caps">BRUSSELS</span> (Reuters) – The European Union’s top banking watchdog has found “general and systematic shortcomings” in Malta’s application of EU anti-money-laundering rules, it said on Wednesday.</p> <p>The European Banking Authority’s criticism came as it concluded an enquiry into the way Malta’s anti-money laundering watchdog the Maltese Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (<span class="caps">FIAU</span>), investigated alleged wrongdoings at Pilatus Bank, a lender on the island.</p> <p>The <span class="caps">EBA</span>’s enquiry pointed to general and systematic shortcomings in the <span class="caps">FIAU</span>’s application of EU anti-money laundering rules, the regulator said.</p> <p>The EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova said the <span class="caps">EBA</span> findings were “troubling news”.</p> <p>Pilatus Bank’s assets are currently frozen and the Maltese Financial Supervisory Authority last month recommended to the European Central Bank to withdraw its banking licence.</p> <p>Maltese authorities had until then imposed no sanctions on the bank despite initial findings by the <span class="caps">FIAU</span> itself in 2016 of alleged suspicious activities at the bank.</p> <p>The <span class="caps">EBA</span> is also investigating the Malta Financial Services Authority which granted the banking licence to Pilatus Bank. This enquiry is still ongoing.</p> <p/> <p/> <p> (Reporting by Francesco Guarascio. Editing by Jane Merriman)</p>