The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) has suspended operations of Malta-based Pilatus Bank following the arrest of its chairman Ali Sadr Hasheminejad on allegations of money laundering and breaching US sanctions on Iran.

Sadr Hasheminejad has been accused of being involved in a scheme to illegally move payments worth $115m from Venezuela to Iranian individuals.

The allegations led to Sadr Hasheminejad’s ouster as the bank’s director. He was also stripped of his voting rights and along with other directors was restricted from making transactions.

Currently, the bank has been directed to take MFSA’s nod before moving its assets and refrain from conducting banking transactions.

The move applies to withdrawals or deposits held with the bank by the shareholder, board members and the bank’s senior management, the regulator said.

The regulator has now appointed former US financial regulator Lawrence Connell to take charge of the bank’s assets. Connell will also take charge of the bank’s banking and investment services business and continue running the business as long as the MFSA deems fit.