Updated | Pilatus whistleblower Efimova surrenders to Greek police

Greek news report says Maria Efimova, source of Daphne Caruana Galizia, handed herself in to police in Athens, as senior Greek police official says she is expected to appear before prosecutor.

The offices of Pilatus Bank in Ta' Xbiex
The offices of Pilatus Bank in Ta' Xbiex

Maria Efimova, the former Pilatus Bank employee turned whistleblower, who was one of the sources of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, has reportedly surrendered to the police in Greece.

Efimova, who had given information to Caruana Galizia on alleged transactions amounting to $1 million from Azerbaijan’s government to the Egrant Panama company, had fled Malta last year, saying she was fearing for her and her family’s safety.

Greek news website tvxs.gr reported today that the whistleblower, who it said had been living in Crete with her husband and two children, turned herself in to Greek police after she travelled to Greece to vote in the Russian election.

The website said that, after receiving calls from mainly British media, which tried to involve her in the recent British-Russian clash - regarding the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury - Efimova had decided to walk into a police station in Athens and surrender herself to Greek authorities, for fear of her life and her family’s security.

The tvxs.gr report was later backed by a senior Greek police official who spoke to the New York Times on condition of anonymity, telling the newspaper that Efimova was arrested last night and is expected to appear before a prosecutor.

A European and International Arrest Warrant had been issued against Efimova in November 2017, after she repeatedly failed to turn up to court sittings. She was being accused of defrauding Pilatus Bank and of having made false claims against inspectors Jonathan Ferris and Lara Butters and Superintendent Denis Theuma.

Rule of law MEPs delegation's reaction

In a statement, the EP's rule of law delegation to Malta, which includes Nationalist MEP David Casa and MEP Ana Gomes, called on Greek authorities to safeguard Efimova's security and to prevent her from being sent to Malta.

"It has come to our attention that Russian whistleblower Maria Efimova, in fear for her life and the security of her family, walked into the Greek police, in Athens, last night, asking for protection," the statement said.

"Maria Efimova is a material witness in investigations on corruption and money laundering in Malta, involving Pilatus Bank and government members exposed by Panama Papers and Malta's FIU," it emphasised, as it called on Greek authorities to protect Efimova, safeguard her and her family's security, and to not return her to Malta.