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Give Maria Efimova Asylum, Greek Firebrand Yanis Varoufakis Urges His Country

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Renowned Greek economist and politician Yanis Varoufakis has urged his home country to grant asylum to Maria Efimova, the former Pilatus Bank employee at the heart of the Egrant allegations.

“The source which exposed a money laundering and corruption scheme involving Malta’s former prime minister is now under fierce attack by Malta, Cyprus and a corporate, murderous establishment willing to do anything to silence her,” Varoufakis said.

“We will fight to protect her, just as we do with other champions of transparency and freedom of information such as Julian Assange.”

Efimova reached out to Varoufakis shortly after her husband was arrested in Crete, and then released, on the back of a European Arrest Warrant issued by Cyprus.

Beloved by left-wing thinkers, Varoufakis was Greece’s Finance Minister during the 2015 government debt crisis which put the Hellenic nation on a collision course with the EU.

He then launched the pan-European political movement DiEM25, as well as its Greek wing MeRA25. This party won nine seats at last year’s Greek general election, with Varoufakis himself becoming an MP.

Varoufakis told openDemocracy.net that MeRA25 will soon file a request in the Greek Parliament for Efimova to be granted asylum, along with a legislative initiative to enhance Greek whistleblower protection laws.

Efimova used to work as the executive assistant of Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, the chairman of the now-defunct Pilatus Bank, and 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 published after Caruana Galizia’s assassination found no evidence that Egrant belonged to the Muscats and recommended that Efimova be charged with perjury over her testimony to the magistrate.

Efimova insisted that magistrate (now judge) Aaron Bugeja had basically forced her into a corner when he warned her that any illegally-obtained evidence she presented would be deemed ineligible and would result in her own prosecution.

She was subsequently charged and police said a European Arrest Warrant has been issued against her.

Efimova told openDemocracy.net that this is part of a “vindictive strategy” to silence her by burdening her and her family with unsustainable legal costs.

“Legal costs are mounting, and we will soon be financially destroyed,” she said.

Efimova has said she is in possession of unreleased evidence, backed up by forensic experts, linking the Panama company Egrant to Michelle Muscat, but she said she won’t publish the information until and unless Malta grants her whistleblower status.

“If I publish these documents without whistleblower protection, there’s a risk I could get charged for acquiring the evidence illegally,” she told Lovin Malta recently. “I don’t see why Malta doesn’t give me whistleblower status so we can close this case, I don’t see what’s so difficult.”

What do you make of this development?

Cover photo: Left: Yanis Varoufakis (Photo: Facebook) Right: Maria Efimova

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