Former Pilatus Bank employee Maria Efimova has said her husband has been arrested on the back of a “ridiculous” charge issued by Cyprus related to alleged misappropriation of funds several years ago.
“The corrupt of Malta and Cyprus join forces once again,” Efimova wrote on Facebook today. “Unable to get to me, they decided to harm my husband, who has been arrested today under Cypriot warrant.”
“Same ridiculous charges which Cyprus has tried to press on me three years ago and has been stopped by the [Council of Europe], are now pressed on my husband. How is it legal, I can’t even imagine.”
“However, Ms. Natalia Antoniou, nominee signatory in thousands of Cypriot and BVI companies (just like Jacqueline Alexander was), apparently has multiple accusations against my husband who never met her and never had connections with the companies she is signing for.”
Efimova used to work as the executive assistant of Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, the chairman of the now-defunct Pilatus Bank.
She had famously tipped off Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia that Michelle Muscat, the wife of then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, was allegedly the owner of the mysterious Panamanian company Egrant.
However, a magisterial inquiry found no evidence that Egrant belonged to the Muscats and recommended that Efimova be charged with perjury over her testimony to the magistrate.
In an interview with PN MP David Thake last December, Efimova admitting to lying to the magisterial inquiry about not having any documents in her possession. She said she was forced to commit perjury because magistrate Aaron Bugeja had warned her that she risked incriminating herself if she had obtained the documents in an illegal way.
Cyprus issued a European Arrest Warrant against Efimova in 2018 over allegations that she had stolen money from the Fragrance Distribution, a Cypriot firm where she worked four years prior.
Efimova warned that the charges were part of a plot to discredit her and the case was flagged by the Council of Europe and the Organized Crime & Corruption Reporting Project as abuse against a person who blew the whistle on high-level corruption in Malta.
Malta also issued a EAW against Efimova on charges of misappropriating funds and making false accusations against three police officers, but this request was turned down by a court in Greece, where Efimova was last known to be residing.
The courts ruled that Malta’s request was vague and the alleged crime wasn’t serious enough to merit her extradition to the island.
Last week, police confirmed that a second EAW has been issued against Efimova over her new perjury case.
Former FIAU inspector Jonathan Ferris has also been charged with perjury in connection with his testimony to the Egrant inquiry.