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Cyprus says investigations into Maria Efimova unrelated to Maltese case

Maria Efimova

Cypriot authorities have told the Council of Europe that their investigations into allaged criminal offences committed by Russian whistleblower Maria Efimova are in no way related” to Maltese investigations.

On 16 January 2018, Cyprus issued a European arrest warrant against Efimova following a complaint filed by the Russian-owned Cypriot company IFD Fragrance Distribution.

Efimova is accused of stealing from the company where she was employed between February 2013 and June 2014.

Efimova, former Pilatus Bank employee, had tipped off murdered investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia that the wife of the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Michelle Muscat, was allegedly the owner of Egrant Inc., a Panamanian offshore company.

Efimova, who lived in Cyprus four years ago before moving to Malta, says these new charges are part of a plot to discredit her and to extradite her to Malta, where she was placed on the wanted list, after failing to turn up for court sittings. Efimova was facing charges of misappropriating €2,000 from  Pilatus Bank, which on Monday had its license revoked, two years after it was first implicated in alleged money laundering breaches.

Efimova left Malta in August 2017, fearing for her life and that of her family, after having given evidence to the prosecution on the allegations regarding the ownership of the Panama offshore company.

A magisterial inquiry did not find any evidence to support these claims, but the report remains unpublished.

After being arrested in Athens earlier this year, the request for her extradition to Malta was denied by the Greek Court of Appeal. Efimova was freed from an Athens jail in April after a court ruled she should not be extradited to Malta because there was no guarantee she would be granted a fair trial and protection.

The European Parliament, alarmed by the Maltese journalist’s assassination 13 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.

‘Evidence’ is not created in a newsroom

Pilatus might be gone but Malta remains a money-laundering haven