The arrest of the Pilatus Bank chairman in the US is the "beginning of the spring clean", according to former FIAU investigator Jonathan Ferris.

Mr Ferris, who was sacked from the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit shortly after the 2017 general election, heralded the start of the spring season, after news emerged of Ali Sadr's arrest.

"It was an accident waiting to happen. They were right to say the best is yet to come (l-aqwa żmien għadu ġej)," he told Times of Malta.

Mr Ali Sadr Hasheminejad was on Wednesday arrested in the US in connection with $115 million worth of payments funnelled to Iran for works done in Venezuela.

Mr Ferris claims he has been fired from the government's anti-money laundering agency after he started to look into reports by Daphne Caruana Galizia claiming that the Panama company Egrant was owned by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s wife. Both the Prime Minister and Ms Muscat reject the allegations.

He said that regulatory bodies and law enforcement authorities in Malta have consistently protected Pilatus Bank's operations, despite a constant stream of allegations.

It is now clear there are tentacles in the institutions

Ms Caruana Galizia and the then opposition leader Simon Busuttil had also claimed that deposits stemming from "bribery" in the sale of Maltese passports had been funneled through Pilatus Bank.

"Why did they give the bank a clean bill of health? It is now clear there are tentacles in the institutions... the Malta Financial Services Authority, the police, everybody is an accomplice in this," he said. 

Read: FIAU says Pilatus shortcomings ‘no longer subsist’

Mr Ferris, who recently filed a second judicial protest over the handling of his request to be granted whistleblower status, asked why the alerts he had personally raised were erased when there was a change at the helm of the FIAU in September 2016.

The FIAU had also raised concerns about the impact these shortcomings could have on Malta, saying it exposed both the bank and the jurisdiction to a "high level of risk".

Read: Jonathan Ferris files second protest calling for whistleblower status


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