Updated 3.50pm with police statement

The police have denied claims made by a Russian whistleblower involved in the Pilatus Bank case that she had been mistreated by police in Malta during her interrogation.

Maria Efimova, who is currently under arrest in Greece over two outstanding Maltese warrants, had alleged that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's wife held a Pilatus Bank account to receive corruption money, claims which had been strongly rejected.

Ms Efimova had been interviewed in Greek newspaper Kathimerini over the weekend.

The police issued an official statement in the afternoon, "categorically denying all the claims made by Ms Efimova and also strongly deny that any representatives of the bank mentioned were present during the interrogation".

According to court documents Ms Efimova made available to the Greek newspaper, she was interrogated by two Maltese police officers back in August 2016.

In a report she filed with the Maltese authorities, the whistleblower claims she was mistreated, alleging that one of the officers pushed her and took her mobile phone while two Pilatus Bank executives sat in on the interrogation.

She also claimed one of the police officers insulted her while the other repeatedly said he was convinced that she was guilty.

They even pressured me to apologise to the bank executives they had brought to the police station

“The policemen who interrogated me told me, ‘We are friends of the bank’, and they even pressured me to apologise to the bank executives they had brought to the police station,” the newspaper quotes her as saying. One of the police officers who interrogated her has since quit his position with the Maltese police and Ms Efimova now says he is willing to come to Greece to testify in her favour.

Read: Pilatus whistleblower fears for her life - lawyer

Ms Efimova had worked closely with the late journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and was a central figure in the Pilatus saga.

Her surrender in Athens happened on the same day as the chairman of Pilatus Bank, Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad, was arrested in the United States on charges that he participated in a scheme to evade US sanctions and funnel more than $115 million.

The whistleblower, who fled Malta after Ms Caruana Galizia’s murder last October, worked as the bank owner’s private assistant from January to March 2016.

“I had worked in a bank before and had experience in compliance departments. I often told them, ‘What you are doing is illegal’,” she told Kathimerini.

Her problems with the bank, she claims, began when she claimed unpaid wages.

Ms Efimova said the bank then moved against her, accusing her of using company money without authorisation to pay for her husband and children’s airline tickets to Germany and Greece, and for her father-in-law to fly from Cyprus to Malta.

The Greek courts are scheduled to hear Malta’s request for Ms Efimova’s extradition on April 12 and her lawyer Alexandros Papasteriopoulos said that while she was in good shape, she was “emotionally upset”.

 

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