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In SoC: E&P, one can pay the pirate gold in order to move one's ships. Who receives that gold? The pirate owner or the bank?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

From the Explorers and Pirates rules under the Paying Tribute to the Pirate section (page 11):

The tribute costs 1 gold, and you pay it to the supply.

From earlier in the rules, in the Preparation section (page 6):

Place the resource cards and dice from the base Catan game beside the game board to form a supply area.

So it is paid to the supply, which is commonly referred to as the bank.

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