‘Whistleblowers’ feud: Efimova lawyer denies Ferris affidavit

Efimova was behind allegations by the late Daphne Caruana Galizia that the Panamanian company Egrant Inc. belonged to Michelle Muscat, the Prime Minister’s wife

Maria Efimova
Maria Efimova

Former FIAU investigator Jonathan Ferris had personally promised to travel to Greece to testify in favour of Maria Efimova, in court proceedings challenging a European Arrest Warrant issued against her by Malta.

But her lawyer has denied suggestions made by Efimova’s husband on Twitter that Ferris would have sent an affidavit on her claims that two Pilatus Bank officials were present during her interrogation when she was accused by her employers of misappropriating money from the bank.

Efimova was behind allegations by the late Daphne Caruana Galizia that the Panamanian company Egrant Inc. belonged to Michelle Muscat, the Prime Minister’s wife.

Efimova, a Russian national who was sacked by Pilatus Bank in 2016, has since fled the island but faces two sets of criminal proceedings: defrauding Pilatus Bank, and making false accusations about the officers who interrogated her – among them Ferris, who was a police inspector up until June 2016, before leaving to join the FIAU.

Her failure to turn up in court after she left Malta led the courts to issue two European Arrest Warrants (EAW) against her. But after turning herself in to Greek police in March 2018 – the day Pilatus Bank chairman Ali Sadr Hasheminejad was arrested in the United States – a Greek court ruled that she should not be extradited to Malta.

Jonathan Ferris (right) accused Maria Efimova (above) of lying about him in her statements to magistrate Aaron Bugeja
Jonathan Ferris (right) accused Maria Efimova (above) of lying about him in her statements to magistrate Aaron Bugeja

After last Sunday’s publication of Magistrate Aaron Bugeja’s 15-month investigation on the Egrant allegation – which inquiry stated that her testimony contained too many contradictions and could not be relied on – Ferris accused Efimova of lying about him, adding that he was “angrier than anyone” that she hadn’t been extradited to Malta.

Efimova and her Cypriot husband Pantelis Varnavas hit back at Ferris’s comments on Twitter, with Varnavas claiming that Ferris had sent an affidavit to Efimova’s lawyer in Greece stating that bank officials were present during her interrogation in Malta. “My wife was put in lock-up and intimidated. And if he wants to see my wife he can visit us in Crete, and I will explain to him who suffered,” Varnavas wrote.

Efimova called Ferris a “crook’s doormat” and accused him personally of “putting [her] through hell and trying to make even more damage.”

Ferris had indeed told MaltaToday at the time of Efimova’s court hearing in Athens that he was willing to “testify to the truth” if requested by the authorities there.

But Efimova’s lawyer this week told MaltaToday that he had not received an affidavit from Ferris, as claimed by Varnavas, although he couldn’t be sure where a similar document had been presented to Maltese authorities. He said he had personally spoken to Ferris, who assured him that he would be willing to travel to Greece and
testify if required to.

While Ferris was ultimately not required to testify on Efimova’s behalf, Nationalist MEP David Casa had travelled to Greece to visit Efimova in jail and to testify in her favour.

Asked by MaltaToday whether he regretted defending Efimova, Casa said their “collaboration” related to his work investigating the “criminal activities exposed in relation to Pilatus Bank, Nexia BT, Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri.”

Casa is pursuing his own political battle against Labour minister Konrad Mizzi and the PM’s chief of staff after publishing an unfinished dossier by the FIAU alleging a possible money laundering set-up – a day after the Egrant inquiry findings were published.

“On that she has been proved right time and time again,” Casa said, pointing out that Efimova had been right about the bank’s client list, its connection to auditors Nexia BT, “the connection between Pilatus Bank and Henley & Partners, and on the money laundering processes of the bank. My testimony in Greece was related to my work. The subject-matter of the 49 pages of the released inquiry is not the subject of my work and nor was it part of my testimony.”

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