Former Pilatus Bank employee Maria Efimova has handed herself in to police in Athens, according to a report by Greek news site TVXS.com.
The report said that Efimova – the Russian whistleblower who had been a source for murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia – gave herself up after “fearing for her life” and the safety of her family.
In a joint statement signed by MEPs sitting on the ad-hoc Rule of Law Delegation to Malta, urged Greek authorities not to send Efimova back to Malta.
“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.
“We call on the Greek authorities to provide Maria Efimova with protection and safeguard of her security and that of her family and to not return her to Malta,” the MEPs added.
A similar report appeared in Cypriot newspaper CyprusMail but it is not yet clear why Efimova handed herself to the police in Athens where it is believed she has applied for asylum.
The reports claimed that in recent days Efimova received phone calls from British journalists “that tried to involve her in the recent British-Russian confrontation” over the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and the Greek prosecutor’s office is expected to decide her fate on Tuesday.
Efimova absconded from Malta after saying that she feared for her life and that of her family, including her elderly father in Moscow who she said was being intimidated by “dodgy people.”
Last year, the Russian woman testified in front of a magisterial inquiry into allegations that the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s wife was the owner of a Panama offshore company called Egrant Inc, which declaration of trust Efimova says she had seen while working at Pilatus Bank.
The whistleblower was issued with an international arrest warrant by Maltese authorities after she failed to attend court hearings into a criminal complaint filed against her by her former employer Pilatus Bank.
In August 2017, Magistrate Joseph Mifsud had ordered her name to be placed on the wanted list after she had repeatedly failed to turn up for a court sitting.
The woman is the subject of two criminal proceedings. She is accused of defrauding Pilatus Bank of some €2,000 and of having made false accusations against Superintendent Denis Theuma and inspectors Jonathan Ferris and Lara Butters.
In January, Cyprus issued an arrest warrant against her for allegedly stealing money from a Cypriot law firm she worked for in 2014. In an interview with the Cyprus Mail, Efimova, who denies any wrongdoing said that the case filed against her in Cyprus is a plot to discredit her in public and the Council of Europe issued an alert after Reporters Without Borders and the International Federation of Journalists, raised the issue as a potential threat to media freedom.
Leading #EP #RuleOfLaw mission to #Malta, following #PanamaPapers and assassination of #DaphneCaruanaGalizia, I ask @tsipras_eu to ensure police protection to Russian whistleblower Maria Efimova & her family. Danger is real. https://t.co/xlI0cfAJC9
— Ana Gomes (@AnaMartinsGomes) March 20, 2018
According to the reports, Efimova was living in Crete with her family. Efimova had claimed she was “100 per cent” certain that the Cyrpriot complaint was part of a plot to have her extradited to Malta.
The European Parliament, alarmed by the Maltese journalist’s assassination five months ago, asked European Union member states, including Malta, to protect Efimova and grant her asylum as she had been harassed and forced to leave Malta.
In a tweet, MEP Ana Gomes who led the MEP mission to investigate the rule of law in Malta urged Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to protect Efimova and warned “Danger is real.”