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Russian whistleblower to talk to MEPs investigating rule of law in Malta

Maria Efimova, a former employee of Pilatus Bank, has fled the country because she fears for her life. She had released documents on Panama company Egrant to slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. The documents linked the company to the Prime Minister’s wife.

The Russian whistleblower at the heart of the Egrant scandal will be talking to the European MEPs investigating the rule of law in Malta and the Panama Papers revelations, on Monday in Strasbourg, sources have confirmed.

Maria Efimova, a former employee of Pilatus Bank, has fled the country because she fears for her life. She was the executive secretary of chairman Seyed Ali Sadr.

On Monday evening, Efimova will have a video conference with the PANA committee, led by German PPE MEP Werner Langen and Socialist MEP Ana Gomes.

She released declarations of trust last April to journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was assassinated on 16 October. Efimova said she had found the declarations of trust inside a safe which had been set up in the kitchen of Pilatus Bank.

The document linked the Prime Minister’s wife Michelle Muscat to Egrant, a mysterious offshore company which had appeared in the Panama Papers. The Prime Minister and his wife have denied the allegations, but the issue is the subject of a criminal magisterial inquiry.

Caruana Galizia had also reported that Egrant had received a payment of over €1 million from a Dubai company owned by Leyla Aliyeva, the daughter of Azerbaijan’s ruler Ilham Aliyev.

Efimova was fired in March 2016 and later sued the bank for not paying her salary. Pilatus Bank then charged Efimova with misappropriating funds.

A European Arrest Warrant as well as an International Arrest Warrant have been issued by Maltese court after she failed to turn up to a number of sittings.

The European Parliament voted in November to start talks with the Maltese government about the rule of law in the country.

A large majority of MEPs voted in favour of the resolution. The vote passed with a large majority, with 466 MEPs voting in favour, 49 against and 167 abstaining.

Co-signed by all European Parliament groupings bar the S&D group, of which Labour Party MEPs form part, the resolution outlines a series of concerns EU parliamentarians have about Malta and calls on the Commission, among other things, to investigate whether Malta is compliant with EU anti-money-laundering laws.

Members of the committee said senior Maltese officials have a “perception of impunity,” after completing a fact-finding mission to Malta earlier this month.

 

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