Whistleblowers who expose criminality suffer the consequences while those involved in criminal activity remain above the law, Maltese MEP David Casa said.
Speaking to The Shift News shortly after visiting Pilatus Bank whistleblower Maria Efimova in jail in Athens, Casa said ‘whistleblowers risk their livelihoods and their safety to expose wrongdoing. In Maria’s case she has even lost her freedom… Is this the society we want to live in?”
Efimova – at the centre of a corruption scandal involving Malta’s prime minister Joseph Muscat – is being held in jail in Athens, after voluntarily giving herself in to the police in Athens on Monday night.
The whistleblower is currently in an Athens prison waiting for a hearing on an extradition request made by Malta where she is wanted to answer for a complaint filed by her former employer, Pilatus Bank, that accuses her of misappropriating less than €2,000.
Maria Efimova asked me to express her immense gratitude for the support she has received. The actions taken by @ActivistsMalta are having an important impact.
— David Casa (@DavidCasaMEP) March 28, 2018
In 2017, she 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 the whistleblower says she had seen while working at Pilatus Bank. The Muscats have denied the allegations while Efimova has so far been denied whistleblower status.
In a statement issued following his visit in Athens, the PN Head of Delegation in the European Parliament said “I came to Athens to make sure Maria knows that she is not alone. That I am behind her. That the European Parliament is behind her. And she will find us with her every step of the way.”
He said exposing corruption and wrongdoing when you are private person is not easy, adding “It takes courage. It means placing the common good above your own safety. And when the case is as high profile as that in which Maria was involved it takes a strength of character that few possess.”
Casa said whistleblowers with incriminating evidence about Pilatus Bank and its clients have been the victims of cruel, vicious campaigns to discredit and vilify them.
“In Maria’s case it led to her fleeing Malta in fear for her life and the security of her family,” the MEP said.
The recent arrest of Pilatus Bank owner Ali Sadr Hasheminejad in the US “further confirms that this bank is indeed a criminal organization,” he said.
“It is not Maria that should be behind bars. Maria asked me to express her immense gratitude for the support she has received. The actions taken by Maltese civil society are having an important impact,” Casa said.
On Monday, the Civil Society Network (CSN) together with Il-Kenniesa, Occupy Justice and l-Awturi, called on Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to grant Efimova asylum to block the extradition order issued by Malta