Whistle-blower Efimova applies for asylum

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By Stelios Orphanides

Maria Efimova, the former Pilatus Bank employee and source of the slain Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, said that she has applied for political asylum in an unspecified European Union country.

“I have myself made an application for political asylum in the country where I am, and I just asked from the PANA Committee members to provide me with a letter, a letter of opinion so on their view I can be considered as a whistle-blower,” she told Manuel Delia, a Maltese journalist and blogger in an interview on Wednesday.

The interview with Efimova’s comments appeared on Wednesday on Delia’s blog, a day after it emerged that Cypriot authorities had issued an arrest warrant against her and her husband after a complaint filed against her by I.D.F. Fragrance Distribution LTd, one of her former employers.

The members of the European Parliament’s committee, which looks into money laundering “confirmed” that she was a whistle-blower, Efimova added. “I filed this letter together with an application,” she said.

Efimova, a Russian national, worked at Malta’s Pilatus Bank, the lender which reportedly facilitated suspicious transactions by Egrant Inc., a Panamanian firm that Cuarana Galizia reported in April belonged to Michelle Muscat, the wife of Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. Egrant reportedly received funds from the daughter of Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev.

On Thursday, a police source in Cyprus said Cypriot authorities recently secured a court order to issue a “European and International” arrest warrant against Efimova, a mother of two, in connection with an alleged embezzlement case at a Limassol-based firm, where she worked until 2014. Precondition for the issue of a such a warrant is that the person in question faces a possible prison term of more than a year, the source said.

In a previous interview, Efimova denied any wrongdoing and said that the complaint filed by a director of Fragrance Distribution Ltd was an attempt to discredit her.

Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Maria Gomes, who led a delegation visiting Malta six weeks ago, asked the national authorities of European Union member states in a letter dated December 13, to either grant asylum or international protection to Efimova since “she is at serious risk”.

Gomes, a Portuguese MEP and member of the Socialist group, said on Wednesday in an email that she was unaware of Efimova’s whereabouts and whether she was “sufficiently protected,” hence she wrote the letter.

Efimova said in a recent interview to the Cyprus Business Mail that she had to abandon Malta in August fearing she would have a similar fate as Caruana Galizia, who was killed in a car bomb attack on October 16.

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About Author

Stelios Orphanides is a journalist at CyprusBusinessMail.com. To contact Stelios Orphanides: [email protected]

  • Vova Khavkin

    She has a good reason not to trust Cyprus authorities, especially the “justice” system which is beholden to its Kremlin masters. What a shame!

    • Trapped in Cyprus

      yes she does have a very good reason not to trust, you are correct and it is a shame. It’s also a shame and a great pity that the International community see this constant bad publicity which reflects on the decent people of Cyprus however publicising such issues are the ONLY way to get anything done, nobody listens, nobody acts, when reporting corruption the silence is deafening

  • almostbroke

    Who is this ‘director ‘ of I D F Fragrance , that made the complaint ? This has a bearing on this’story ‘ . Another ‘mystery ‘ person reported on as usual in this paper !

    • Muffin the Mule

      Or better still, why would a ‘fragrance’ company issue an arrest warrant against a previous employee? Might just check on who owns this frangrance company.

      • Muffin the Mule

        It’s a Russian owned Cypriot based company….well, well.

        • Barry White

          Clearly a very “well trained” associate has stepped into the shoes of the “Justice” Department’s Russian processing desk, while the previous occupant is “under investigation”.

      • Barry White

        Best check the odour arising from the “fragrance” company at the same time. Eau de Moscow?

    • Bystander

      Company with this name does not seem to be registered in Cyprus, at least it is not in the registrar. There is ‘I.F.D. FRAGRANCE DISTRIBUTION CO. LIMITED’ though, looks like a paper company to me, with puppet directors.

  • plexor

    The tax thieving countries Malta and Cyprus seem to do common cause against Efimova

    Both countries are in my opinion ruthless kleptocracies, whereby the presidents & friends try to enrich themselves and do states crime. Such countries politicise the justice, especially the AG office. Critics, complainants, whistleblower … get prosecured and the existence destroyed and the states criminals protected. That CYs justice comes along with arbitrary decisions, one could see it for example at the Loizidou case and Costas Clerides gag law – the offenders/failures like Loizidou are states-protected and suddenly the victims and the freedom of media is suppressed. Besides, the helping hands banks (especially the Bank of Cyprus)/accountants/lawyers in CYs tax thieving system are also states-protected – criminal complaints against the helping hands get strictly ignored by AG Costas Clerides.

    At whistleblower Efimova, its exactly the opposite and the CY justice will now look, how to make maximal damage to her. The jugde, who convicts Efimova, may reckon to get promoted to a higher rank. And of course, Malta will also try to convict whistleblower Efimova and get her into the hands, because of forwarding secret information about president Joseph Muscat to slain journalist Galizia.

    The EU should have a close eye at feeble Malta and Cyprus, as both are using a system of fear with its politicised justice. The question is also, how the EU-commission can be so unable and give EU-funds to such countries, which damage others and try to live on the expense of others. I recommend also, that the EU has a look at Costas Clerides gag law.

    Besides: Have CYs highest states officials already routinely passed on EU documents to Russia within 2018 and deceived the EU with it?

    • Trapped in Cyprus

      Excellent article, very informative and your reply is absolutely spot on, may I have your permission to tweet your reply?

    • ROC..

      Mate nearly every country has dogy dealings if not Doms, or offshore accounts or countries with massive tax aviodence Cyprus and Malta are small fish compared to other coutries.

      • Trapped in Cyprus

        I can understand you are upset at bad publicity for Cyprus, so are a lot of us it is really unfair to the majority of decent Cypriots, really unfair! and you are absolutely correct that there is corruption elsewhere but the scale of it in the system Cyprus is the problem, and at least in other countries when you report crimes to the police they must process it and there is a system of accountability. In Cyprus IAIACAP and the Ombudswoman for eg are supposed to uphold rights but they themselves need investigated. I lived in UK for most of my life and it is far from perfect, Cyprus is superior in many ways but the system in Cyprus stinks! I don’t know a single person affected by police corruption in UK (but of course it exists!) my point is it is not so common but in Cyprus a LOT of people complain about it. If I wrote to the AG in UK with reports that I sent to Clerides there is no way he would get away with not responding or acting. Lives are ruined by corruption in the system in Cyprus, it is a fact

      • plexor

        Malta, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Ireland and the Netherlands are the well-known tax havens within the EU, which do harmful taxation respectively tax thieving from others. At least Cyprus does in addition an intensive, states-organised exploitation of foreign customers. There is one fake after each other, without any gap, under misuse of its EU-membership and with the aim to live on the expense of others. Banks/accountants and lawyers are the helping hands and concerning my experience learned pharisees and cheaters, who do feeble common cause and conspiracy against foreigners.

        I was around in whole Europe and nowhere, I saw such notorious thieves and deceivers like in Cyprus. Malta and Cyprus are not small fishes. Malta disqualified itself recently with a car-bomb against the journalist Galizia and the Cypriots are great, states-organised, anti-European-thinking foreigner cheaters and discriminators, who are proud on their feeble misbehaviour. Cyprus does not want to be a serious financial centre, but just looking like one, to win trust and misuse this trust to fake foreigners once more. Anastasiadis & Co make the catchpenny programms – tailor-made to defraud foreigners – and the helping hands banks/accountants/lawyers and some authorities are the states-protected fullfilling assistents. Even a part of the fake-promotion via CIPA is states-organized.

        The truth is, that a CY company is mainly a rubbish, founded to get exploited by CYs helping hands.

  • ROC..

    A bash at the ROC and I see all the local Greek bashers are out in force. where were they when Erdogan wanted to strangle the Kurds? not one cared to comment, They are all hypercrites

    • almostbroke

      I dident see ‘Greece ‘ mentioned once in this comment section or do you mean Cypriots who speak Greek !

  • costaskarseras

    First of all, I would like to pay tribute to the Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who gave her life-fighting corruption, Ms Maria Efimova and all whistleblowers sometimes pay with their lives to bring to the open corruption and to help to prosecute culprits.

    I read the comments below of the “white tornados against corruption” and if their motives are sincere I share their moral indignation and they have my total support.

    Some commentators pretend that they have never heard of corruption until they discovered Cyprus and now Malta.

    Below are samples of examples how deep and damaging corruption is for the working people.

    The former Greek defence minister Akis Tsohazopoulos and his wife Vicky were prosecuted and sent to prison for bribes received from the German company Siemens.
    Greece’s corruption is one of the main reasons why the country’s economy is in a such a mess. Until a few years ago the bribes offered by German companies were tax refundable.

    Roberto Saviano, who has been under police protection since exposing the activities of Naples’ crime syndicate, the Camorra said: “If I asked you what is the most corrupt place on Earth you might tell me it’s Afghanistan, maybe Greece, Nigeria, the South of Italy, and I will tell you it’s the UK.

    The CIA was involved in cocaine smuggling to help to fund the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

    I remember our Turkish neighbours demonstrating with shoe boxes in their hands after police uncovered millions of dollars packed in shoe boxes found in the home of the chief executive of a state-run bank.

    Three key government ministers quit after their sons were taken into custody for corruption.
    Erdogan’s son was arrested for massive money laundering in Italy.

    A jury found Mehmet Hakan Atilla, deputy chief executive of the Turkish Halkbank, guilty of five counts of bank fraud and conspiracy.

    Regardless of their nationality, the working people pay for their greed.

    • almostbroke

      In your trip around the world in your pursuit of all this corruption did you overlook Putin’s Russia !

  • Eddy Privitera

    Birds of a feather flock together – DCG & Efimova

    • bleef

      Stop polluting this website you Maltese scum. Now crawl back to your little hole.
      For all the Cypriot readers, this Eddy Privitera has been harassing and badmouthing DCG (Daphne Caruana Galizia) for the past 20yrs.

      • Eddy Privitera

        Your DCG had wished me dead TWICE ! Still I abhor and utterly condemn those who murdered her. I never wished her any harm as she had wished , for example, Dom Mintoff , whom she wished to have been murdered like Gaddafi ! DCG was the epitome of poluitcal hatred.

        • Dom Mintoff was scum just like yourself. DCG’s family had their property confiscated by Mintoff’s authoritarian and violent regime. She has been vilified, harassed and treated with utter contempt by yourself and the Malta Labour Party. Now crawl back to your like hole!

          • Eddy Privitera

            You seem to be ‘Angus Black’ using another name ! G had been the most widely hated woman in our country due to the political hatred she dispensed regularly, not just aboiut those whom she targeted, but also their family members, including parents and children ! Still I abhored seeing her murdered in this callous way even though she had wished Dom Mintoff – whom I never heard him say anything about her – to be murdered even in a worse way than her own murder.