It’s been exactly seven months since Maria Efimova, the former Pilatus Bank employee at the centre of the notorious Egrant allegation, managed to raise €15,000 to apply for whistleblower status in Malta.
However, there have been barely any updates on this campaign and the status of these donations, and people are starting to grow frustrated, especially seeing as Efimova is ignoring their messages.
Back in January, Efimova said she needed €15,000 to cover the costs for the whistleblower application process, which she said includes the forensic examination of documental evidence in her possession.
“Recent changes in Maltese government and Maltese police may help the truth to come out. I believe it is time to bring the Egrant story to an end,” she said
Efimova reached her target around nine days after launching the campaign, thanks to the help of 452 individual backers. However, there was radio silence from her end until June, when former auditor Godfrey Leone Ganado sent her a message, urging her to make a clear statement about the fundraising and warning her that donors are growing suspicious of her true intentions.
In a Facebook post, Efimova said she hadn’t heard from her lawyers with regards her whistleblower status application since February and promised to publish her correspondence with them later on that day. No such correspondence can be seen on her profile and it is unknown which lawyers she is referring to.
Efimova said she was concerned of potential legal action by former Pilatus Bank owner Ali Sadr Hasheminejad after the US dropped charged against him, as well as retribution by the Maltese police force.
“Despite all the revelations coming out last four years and counting, corrupt members of the Maltese government are still in power and strongly supported by the majority of Maltese citizens,” she said. “If I don’t have whistleblower status, the Maltese police will chase me the moment I publish Egrant evidence.”
“Many games are being played in Malta but I won’t be used in any of them. I will do what is right, both for me and for justice. If by now there are people who regret their donations, please contact me and I will return it, no bad feelings held.”
Leone Ganado responded that her statement clarified his issues and concerns.
However, two months have passed since then and there has been no sign of movement from Efimova’s end. She’s not answering messages or phone calls and activists involved in the movement calling for justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia have told Lovin Malta that they have been unable to get in touch with her.
In 2017, now-assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia famously claimed that declarations of trust inside a safe at Pilatus Bank proved that the Panama company Egrant belonged to Michelle Muscat, wife of then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
Her source was later revealed to be Efimova, a Russian national who used to work as the executive assistant of the bank’s chairman Ali Sadr Hasheminejad.
Caruana Galizia wrote that the documents had been scanned and uploaded to the cloud, for security purposes, by third parties so that they cannot be destroyed by the bank.
However, a magisterial inquiry found no evidence that Egrant belonged to the Muscats and revealed glaring inconsistencies in the testimonies of Caruana Galizia and Efimova, with both people stating the other had shown them the documents.
The full inquiry report, which was published last year by Opposition leader Adrian Delia, includes an instruction to the police to investigate Efimova for perjury.
It also found evidence of forged signatures in an alleged declarations of trust that had been handed to the inquiry by then Malta Independent editor Pierre Portelli. Portelli hasn’t revealed his source but has confirmed it wasn’t Efimova, Caruana Galizia or former police officer and FIAU official Jonathan Ferris, who is also seeking whistleblower status.
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.