Interpol has informed former Pilatus Bank employee Maria Efimova that a parcel of alleged evidence she and her husband had mailed to them last month was stolen before it arrived at their headquarters.
This week, Interpol emailed Efimova and her husband Pantelis Varnavas to confirm that their package was stolen from the DHL courier before it arrived at their Lyon headquarters.
It was first reported by financial crime blogger Kenneth Rijock, but Lovin Malta has seen a full copy of the email, which was sent by an official Interpol account.
“We were also informed that DHL will be notifying you about this incident,” Interpol wrote.
“From your message, we understand this was not done and the General Secretariat mailing team urgently contacted DHL services to enquire why the system shows that the package was delivered while we have been informed that it was stolen and why no contact has been made with you so far.”
“DHL informed us that a representative will contact you very shortly to confirm you that your submission was declared stolen.”
“In the meantime, we invite you to send us again the original documents by postal mail (and also by e-mail), once the original documents requested are duly received, it will respond to your query.”
DHL’s tracking system shows the parcel left Crete, where Efimova is residing, to Athens on 7th January, was shipped to Milan a day later, and arrived at Lyon on 10th January.
The next day is when things start looking strange.
DHL’s system shows the parcel was sent to the Lyon processing facility at 5:12am and arrived at 5:49am. At 8:30am, it was sent to the delivery courier and at 8:21pm, an update reads ‘Please contact DHL’.
A final update appears afterwards, saying the parcel was delivered and signed for by someone called Maura. However, the message was apparently delivered at 11:06am, ie. nine hours before the previous update. Also, while all other location updates include both the name of the city and country (eg. Lyon-France, Athens-Greece), the final update only reads ‘Lyon’.
Efimova’s suspicion is that someone may have hacked DHL’s servers to give the impression that the parcel was delivered.
She told Lovin Malta that she spoke with DHL France since receiving that email from Interpol, and they confirmed the parcel had been stolen. Meanwhile, she and her husband have opened an inquiry with DHL Greece.
She also confirmed that the documents she sent Interpol were copies of documents in her possession, and that she will now resend them.
Lovin Malta has asked Interpol and DHL whether they are investigating this incident but haven’t received a response as of the time of writing.
The package was believed to have contained a ‘statement of facts’ detailing how her husband’s recent arrest stemmed from a desire by political forces to silence her.
Varnavas was arrested by Greek police last November on the back of a European Arrest Warrant issued by Cyprus in connection with a case of alleged misappropriation of funds from a company Efimova had worked at before moving to Malta.
In 2018, Cyprus issued an arrest warrant against Efimova over allegations that she had stolen up to €40,000 from the Cypriot offices of a Russian cosmetics firm where she had worked four years prior.
Efimova said she was registered as the sole employee at the Cypriot office and that her job mainly involved going through the mail and sending important letters to Russia.
“I wasn’t involved in management and never administered any money,” she said.
Greece never extradited Efimova to Cyprus and this case was flagged by the Council of Europe as a case of state abuse against a whistleblower.
Efimova herself wasn’t arrested last November and she’s puzzled at how her husband got dragged into this issue, arguing that he never worked with the Russian cosmetics company in question or had any kind of relationship with any of the company’s directors.
Last November, police also confirmed that they had issued another European Arrest Warrant against Efimova so that she could answer to charges of alleged perjury in her testimony to the Egrant inquiry.
Efimova rose to prominence in 2017 when she sensationally told now-assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia that the Panama company Egrant belongs to Michelle Muscat, wife of then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
A magisterial inquiry later found no evidence that Egrant ever belonged to the Muscats or that it received any payments whatsoever, but didn’t establish who the company was purchased for.
The inquiry also found evidence of forged signatures on alleged copies of declarations of trust that were presented by Pierre Portelli, who was back then editor-in-chief of The Malta Independent.
Last year, Efimova said she has documental evidence related to her Egrant allegations but that she needs to hire an “independent forensic document examiner” to verify it. Within a matter of days, she had raised €15,000 through a crowd-funder.
In November, she told Lovin Malta that she spent €13,000 of the money she raised on commissioning a forensic analysis of Egrant-related documents. However, she later said she won’t publish proof of payment unless Malta grants her whistleblower status.
Earlier this month, Joseph Muscat told a court that he wants Efimova to return to Malta to physically testify in libel cases he had opened in relation to the Egrant affair, rejecting a request by the defence for her to testify visually.
What do you make of this?