US$400,000 “loan payment” to Michelle Muscat jewellery business partner from sister of Pilatus Bank owner
Seyed Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, 36, is the chairman and ultimate beneficial owner of Pilatus Bank, which is headquartered in Whitehall Mansions at Ta’ Xbiex. He is Iranian, but has four passports issued to him by St Kitts & Nevis. His father is Mohammad Sadr Hasheminejad, who is chairman of the Eghtesad Novin Bank in Tehran, Iran.
Seyed Ali Sadr Hasheminejad has a sister, Negarin Sadr Hasheminejad – known by the shorter form of Negarin Sadr – who has a fashion business called Negarin London. Both siblings live between London and the US.
In March last year, Pilatus Bank received urgent instructions to open an account for Negarin Sadr, the chairman’s sister. It was late in the evening, but bank officials were told that it couldn’t wait until the next day.
The account had to be opened immediately and a loan of US$1 million granted there and then to Negarin Sadr for her fashion business.
Then another instruction came in: as soon as the loan was processed, a significant proportion of it – approximately US$400,000 – was to be paid out from Negarin Sadr’s loan account to a bank account held by “a Maltese woman who lives in New York and has a jewellery business called Buttardi”.
The woman in question is Michelle Buttigieg and Buttardi is a costume jewellery business she set up in partnership with Michelle Muscat (formerly Tanti) in 2003. Mrs Muscat is still in business with her and is listed on the company website as the contact person for the European market.
In 2014, Michelle Buttigieg was appointed “Malta’s tourism representative” in the United States, on a salaried basis with perks. She has no tourism or related experience, and there was no open call for the post. The government has refused to publish her contract.