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Maltese lender's chairman pleads not guilty to US charges

Maltese lender Pilatus Bank's chairman, Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiracy to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran and money laundering, Reuters reported March 29.

Sadr was arrested and indicted March 20, and the Malta Financial Services Authority took control of the bank a day later, suspending him from all activity with the bank. He was denied bail at the Manhattan, N.Y., hearing by U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses, who said his wealth and international connections would make him a flight risk.

Sadr is accused of concealing U.S. dollar payments to his Iran-based Stratus Group conglomerate, the report noted. His lawyer said the payments did not benefit Iran and that Sadr's father was once imprisoned in Iran for opposing the government.