Magistrate postpones Maria Efimova case indefinitely after no progress on European arrest warrant

Court proceedings in Malta relating to the European arrest warrant issued against Maria Efimova have been adjourned indefinitely after no progress is registered

Maria Efimova
Maria Efimova

Court proceedings relating to the European arrest warrant issued against former Pilatus Bank employee Maria Efimova have been adjourned sine die by the magistrate hearing the case.

In a decision handed down today, the court, presided by Magistrate Marseanne Farrugia observed that there had been no developments on the EAW and neither had there been any further attempts to arrest her.

The court heard how the Maltese police force had not received information from the Europol SIRENE office and neither did it receive an alert from the Schengen Information System.

Magistrate Farrugia pointed out that the last sitting had been adjourned for further information and therefore adjourned the case without appointing another sitting, asking the investigators to inform her if there are any future developments in the case.

Efimova had leaked information from Pilatus Bank to murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. It was on the basis of this information that Caruana Galizia had claimed that Michelle Muscat, wife of former prime minister Joseph Muscat, was the owner of Panama company Egrant. 

The company was one of three set up by Nexia BT after the 2013 election. The two other companies were for Muscat's right hand man, Keith Schembri and then energy minister Konrad Mizzi. When the Panama Papers leak happened in 2016, no documentation was found linking Egrant to its owner.

Nexia BT's owner had claimed the company remained a shelf company under his name.

Caruana Galizia had claimed Egrant was in Michelle Muscat's name and it held an account with Pilatus Bank, which was used as a vehicle for the laundering of kickbacks from Azerbaijan’s ruling Aliyev family. Muscat and his wife strenuously denied the allegations and were vindicated by the conclusions of a magisterial inquiry, which also ordered the police to investigate Efimova.

The owner of Egrant is still not known.

In 2018, before the Greek courts, Efimova successfully challenged a European arrest warrant issued against her by the Maltese authorities, where it was concluded that she would not receive a fair trial in Malta.

But another EAW was subsequently issued against Efimova, this time to answer to charges of making false accusations against former police Superintendent Denis Theuma and former police Inspector Jonathan Ferris and inspector Lara Butters.

Efimova had accused the officers of collusion with Pilatus Bank after the bank sacked her and accused her of misappropriating money. 

Together with her husband and two children, Efimova had escaped to Greece, soon after Caruana Galizia was assassinated by a car bomb in 2017.

Efimova had reacted to news of the EAW with a Facebook post, criticising the government for issuing a warrant for her arrest instead of granting her whistleblower status to tell all she knows about Pilatus Bank and Egrant.