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National Bank case: Court finds shareholders' human rights were breached

The emblem of the National Bank

The emblem of the National Bank

A court this morning decided in favour of National Bank shareholders who had sued the government for breaching their human rights in the take-over of the bank in 1973.

Lawyer Max Ganado said the court presided by Judge JR Micallef had found that shareholders had their human rights breached when the Labour government led by former Prime Minister Dom Mintoff had forced shareholders to hand over their shares after the National Bank of Malta faced a run on deposits.

The court will now consider compensation.

Details of the court judgement are still emerging.

The government had gone on to replace the National Bank with Bank of Valletta.

In May, Parliamentary Secretary Owen Bonnici said the Government did not exclude holding talks with the former shareholders of the National Bank for an out-of-court settlement.

Such a decision, however, hinged on finding a “just solution” for all parties involved. 

Shareholders have consistently argued that the run had been engineered specifically to weaken the bank and provide the government with an excuse to nationalise it in the public interest.

Labour leader Joseph Muscat had held a meeting with Jeremy Cassar Torregiani, the grandson of the National Bank of Malta founder prior to the March 9 election.

The new Government had signalled its intention to hammer out an agreement that would see about 300 shareholders compensated for their losses – a settlement that is expected to cost the Government tens of millions of euros.

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