Whistleblower Maria Efimova plans to pay an “independent” company to verify documents she says will name the real owner of secret offshore company Egrant Inc.
The former Pilatus Bank employee has so far raised over €9,650 of the €15,000 target amount, through a fundraising campaign she started six days ago.
She plans to spend €12,000 on an “independent” and “neutral” company based in the EU to authenticate the signatures appearing on Pilatus Bank documents, which are in her possession.
Ms Efimova had previously passed information to journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who claimed that Egrant Inc was owned by former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s wife, Michelle.
A magisterial inquiry later found no proof to support the claim and even called for criminal proceedings against Ms Efimova for calumny.
She told Times of Malta the documents she had “name the UBO (ultimate beneficial owner) of Egrant” but would not disclose any more details about them or the company she plans to employ to verify them.
The Russian whistleblower said she did not know if the documents she had were the same as those previously submitted to the inquiry, which linked Ms Muscat to the Panama company and were found to have been falsified.
“The documents and their format, I believe are authentic because they are drafted in the proper way. I am only concerned about the signatures,” she said.
She said the documents also “might show significant evidence of money laundering conducted by Pilatus Bank”. Speaking from Heraklion, Greece, she said that before she submitted the documents in her possession she had to be granted the protection of whistleblower status.
The remaining €3,000 she hopes to raise will go towards paying the legal fees of a Maltese law firm advising her on her application.
Ms Efimova said she believed she had a greater chance of getting such status under the new Prime Minister, Robert Abela.
“In Malta, there is a whistleblower law and, as far as I understand it, I have a right to be given this status. In my opinion, the previous prime minster did not follow the law,” she said.
“As for Dr Abela, I don’t have any reason to believe that he will not follow the law. I consider him a person who abides by the law of his own country,” she added.
Ms Efimova also said that the removal of Lawrence Cutajar from police commissioner motivated her to start the campaign.
The magistrate who conducted the Egrant inquiry called for criminal proceedings against Ms Efimova after she was accused of committing calumny and perjury, having made statements that were later contradicted by other witnesses and evidence.
Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi said a private individual working in the public sector and seeking whistleblower status would first need to contact the relevant official within the government ministry.
In the private sector one has to follow the company’s internal procedures.
The whistleblower’s statements of wrongdoing would be investigated by the official and then referred upwards to a higher body, including the Attorney General, to determine whether they need to be investigated further or settled.
This process takes around four weeks.