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Greek Court rejects extradition of whistleblower Maria Efimova to Malta

A Greek Court of Appeals confirmed the decision to not extradite whistleblower Maria Efimova, a Russian national, to Malta. The request for the extradition of Pilatus Bank whistleblower Maria Efimova has been denied by the Greek Court of Appeal in a decision delivered on Thursday.

Maria Efimova was the source of information for Daphne Caruana Galizia, the Maltese journalist who was assassinated last year, while the mastermind remains at large.

Efimova has the support of several members of the European Parliament.

“Those that used Pilatus Bank for criminal activity remain in power in Malta. It is clear that Maria’s life would be at risk if she were extradited,” PN Head of Delegation, MEP David Casa said.

Casa travelled to Athens three times to work with Maria Efimova’s legal team. He provided evidence during the hearing before the Court of First Instance as well as the Court of Appeal.

Earlier, Efimova tweeted that she was waiting for the decision. She said her lawyer had advised her not to appear in the court, to avoid being arrested if the decision would have turned out negative. However, she said she was not going to hide and appeared in court nonetheless.

Efimova, a former employee at Pilatus Bank, was issued with a European arrest warrant last year after she twice failed to turn up in the Maltese court to face charges of fraud filed by her former employer.

Efimova is currently facing two sets of criminal proceedings in Malta. She has been accused by Pilatus Bank of defrauding it of roughly €2,000 in one case, and by the police of having made false accusations against Superintendent Denis Theuma, inspector Lara Butters and Jonathan Ferris, who had interrogated her.

Efimova was behind allegations that the Panama company Egrant belonged to Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s wife, Michelle. She also alleged that the bank had processed a $1 million transaction from Azerbaijan to Michelle Muscat.

On June 11th, the European Banking Authority has opened a formal investigation into “shortcomings” over how Malta’s Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) enforced anti-money laundering rules at Pilatus bank.

Malta’s regulators imposed a freeze on the business of Pilatus Bank in March after its chairman, Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad, was accused in an indictment filed in a federal court in Manhattan of involvement in a scheme to evade U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.

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