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Associated Press Demand Access To Sealed Files In Pilatus Bank Owner’s Case

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Associated Press is demanding publication of sealed files in the US case against Pilatus Bank owner Ali Sadr Hasheminejad.

In an official request, AP argued that under the First Amendment,  “judicial documents” may not be sealed “unless specific, on the record findings are made demonstrating that closure is essential to preserve higher values and is narrowly tailored to serve that interest.”

They also say that common law provides a qualified right of public access to inspect and copy judicial records in a criminal trial.

In July 2020, the US government dropped its case against Ali Sadr, who was convicted of violating US sanctions against Iran earlier this year.

Hasheminejad was found guilty of bypassing US sanctions on Iran by using a complex web of companies to funnel $115 million from a Venezuelan construction project to his father, major Iranian businessman Mohammad Sadr Hashemi.

The case was dropped over the likelihood of continued litigation over the suppression of evidence that arose after his trial. Several documents were sealed in the case.

US financial blogger Kenneth Rijock claims that sealed documents involve certain Maltese officials and that Ali Sadr might have turned informant in the case.

According to Rijock, a former-money-launderer-turned-FBI informant, the FBI has launched a special money laundering investigation focusing solely on Malta which could see former Prime Minister Muscat extradited to the US. He also claims Muscat is planning an escape to Dubai to avoid extradition.

He said other European countries, including Italy, have also launched separate investigations.

The former Prime Minister has taken aim at Rijock’s credibility, denying any illegalities and stating he is unaware of any international investigation against him.

In Malta, Ali Sadr is known as infamous Pilatus Bank owner with links to high-profile figures under former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s administration, with links to magisterial inquiries involving Muscat’s disgraced right-hand man Keith Schembri.

Assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia wrote extensively on the issue. Her claims that the mysterious Panama company Egrant was owned by Michelle Muscat and documents held at the bank would prove it were dismissed by an inquiry.

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