MEPs urge Greece not to extradite Pilatus Bank whistleblower Maria Efimova to Malta

MEPs from across the political spectrum have called on Greece to keep Maria Efimova safe, after the former Pilatus Bank employee gave herself up to Greek police on Tuesday

36 MEPs have called for protection of Piltaus Bank whistleblower Maria Efimova
36 MEPs have called for protection of Piltaus Bank whistleblower Maria Efimova

MEPs from all political groups have called on the Greek government to protect Maria Efimova and not extradite her to Malta.

The former Pilatus Bank employee, who claimed to have seen documents that placed Michelle Muscat, the wife of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, as the ultimate beneficial owner of a secret Panama company Egrant, gave herself in to Greek police on Tuesday. The Muscats have denied the claims and asked for a magisterial inquiry, which is still ongoing.

A European arrest warrant against Efimova was issued by Malta after she had been accused of fraud by the bank but left the country before she could testify in the case. The case predates the Egrant issue that put Pilatus Bank at the centre of allegations made by Daphne Caruana Galizia before the 2017 general election.

In an open letter to the Greek government, the 36 MEPs said that Efimova was a star witness in cases of corruption and money laundering within Pilatus Bank. The Russian national was also subject to an arrest warrant issued by Cyprus over another case of fraud alleged by a Cypriot company.

Sources within the European Parliament told MaltaToday that the letter had been dsitributed among 114 MEPs for endorsement, including members of the PANA committee, which was set up to investigate alleged contraventions and maladministration by member states in the application of Union law in relation to money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion.

READ ALSO: Malta financial regulator freezes Pilatus Bank directors’ and owners’ operations

The MEPs called on the Greek authorities to ensure that Efimova is not extradited to Malta, that she and her family be granted asylum and that she be granted protection and kept safe.

The arrest in the US of bank chairman and owner Ali Sadr Hasheminejad was further proof of how Pilatus Bank was being used to launder money belonging to people in power in Malta and Azerbaijan, the MEPs said.

READ ALSO: US delegation to travel to Malta to investigate Pilatus Bank chairman

“To this day, the Maltese Government is still trying hard to discredit Efimova, after she was revealed to be Daphne Caruana Galizia’s source.”

Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bombing on 16 October 2017. Afterwards, Efimova had said she had to leave Malta because she feared for her life and the safety of her family.