05 Nov 2018 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 25 Jan 2018 n° 7/2018 Cyprus

Russian Whistleblower, Daphne Caruana Galizia’s Source, Faces Arrest Warrant in Cyprus after Complaint from Former Employer

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner Index EFJ/IFJ
Partner Index EFJ/IFJ
On 16 January 2018, Cyprus issued a European arrest warrant against Maria Efimova, a Russian whistleblower, following a complaint filed by the Russian-owned Cypriot company IFD Fragrance Distribution against Efimova, who is accused of stealing from the company.

Maria Efimova, former Pilatus Bank employee, had tipped off Maltese 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 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 PM’s wife ownership of the Panama offshore company. The Prime Minister and his wife denied the allegations and called for a judicial inquiry.

Efimova has now applied for political asylum in an unspecified European Union country and asked from the European Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry into money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion to recognise her as a whistleblower.

The European Parliament, asked EU member states, including Malta, to protect Efimova and grant her asylum, after a delegation led by the Portuguese MEP, Ana Gomes visited Malta in late November 2017.
10 Jun 2019
On 16 January 2019, Efimova was recognized for her work in London by the Blueprint for Free Speech. Pilatus Bank has had its license revoked by European Central Bank, while the bank’s chairman and owner, Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, was arrested in the United States.
14 Jun 2018
On 14 June 2019, a Greek Court of Appeal denied the request for extradition of Maria Efimova.
12 Apr 2018
On 12 April 2018, an Athens Court ruled that Maria Efimova will not be extradited to Malta, because there were no guarantees that “she would be granted a fair trial”. An appeal was filed by the Greek prosecutor's office.
20 Mar 2018
On 19 March, Maria Efimova voluntarily turned herself in to the Greek police in Athens, fearing for her life. She was transferred to court custody on 20 March.
State replies
05 Nov 2018
Official reply of the Cyprus Authorities
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