Nationalist MEP David Casa met up with Maria Efimova, the Russian whistleblower behind the Egrant story, in an Athens prison today in a last-ditch attempt to prevent her extradition to Malta.
“I was granted permission to speak to Efimova about the procedures she will face in the coming days, and it was a long discussion,” Casa said in a video he uploaded onto his Facebook page. “She already has protection from the European Parliament and she deserves protection by the Greek authorities, because her life is in danger. We will meet up with the Greek authorities today and urge them to do their utmost to protect Efimova’s life. Efimova is fighting against criminals, she informed us about criminality at Pilatus Bank and it is in all of our best interests for this fight to continue. We must protect her life.”
Efimova, a former Pilatus Bank employee, stunned Malta last year when she told now-assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia that she stumbled upon declarations of trust which show that the secret offshore company Egrant – exposed in the Panama Papers- belonged to the Prime Minister’s wife Michelle Muscat. Caruana Galizia wrote that Egrant held two accounts at Pilatus Bank and an unnamed Dubai bank, and that this second company had received several payments from a Pilatus Bank account owned by Leyla Aliyeva, the daughter of Azerbaijan’s ruler Ilham Aliyev. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat denounced the story as “the biggest political lie in Malta’s history”.
The only photo of Maria Efimova – from a Malta Independent interview that has since been deleted
Efimova and her family fled from Malta to Crete after last year’s election, with the former Pilatus Bank employee saying she feared for her safety. She later wrote to Joseph Muscat to claim that an unspecified Maltese politician went as far as to subcontract a private detective to follow and speak to her father in Moscow.
The Maltese courts issued two European arrest warrants against her after she failed to turn up to two criminal cases, one for allegedly defrauding Pilatus Bank and one for making false accusations against two police officers. She gave herself up to the Greek police earlier this month, reportedly amid fears that the UK media intended to link her to the recent Salisbury nerve agent attack against former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter.