Updated with PN comments at 10.54am
The woman who alleged Egrant was owned by the Prime Minister’s wife claims she informed the court her elderly father was intimidated by Russian private detectives “hired by individuals from Malta”.
Maria Efimova, a former employee of a Ta’ Xbiex based bank, was earlier this year revealed to be the source behind claims by blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia that $1 million was transferred to Panama company Egrant.
Both Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Mrs Muscat denied the allegation and the Prime Minister even instructed his lawyers to ask the police to set in motion an inquiry, which Magistrate Aaron Bugeja is conducting.
Ms Efimova, who is facing fraud allegations before a Maltese court, has since fled the country, claiming she had to protect her family.
When asked by the Times of Malta what made her leave so suddenly, Ms Efimova forwarded this paper an e-mail she said was sent to the inquiring magistrate’s deputy registrar.
In the e-mail, dated June 15, Ms Efimova asked for the magistrate to be informed about the purported intimidation attempts on her family.
Is this what you call witness protection?
She said her father was approached by two people from a private detective agency at his home in Russia. She said they sought to verify whether her mother had actually passed away.
The private detectives, the e-mail said, told the woman’s father they had been hired by “individuals from Malta”.
“My father is 70 years old and he recently lost his beloved wife. Is this what you call witness protection?” the e-mail said.
Ms Efimova said in the e-mail her father would be filing a police report.
Questions to the deputy registrar, enquiring whether the court had received the e-mail Ms Efimova mentioned, remained unanswered at the time of writing.
The Prime Minister had raised the possibility of Russian meddling in internal political affairs during the height of the May general election campaign.
He had reacted to questions about a report published on Intelligence Online, which said the UK’s MI6 and the US CIA were concerned about “possible interference” in Malta’s election process. The report suggested the Egrant whistleblower was part of a Russian power play.
The Prime Minister had said the government had no evidence Ms Efimova was linked to the Kremlin.
The Russian Embassy in Malta “categorically” rejected the allegations, saying they were “absolutely unfounded and untrue”.
It said: “Russia has never interfered into Malta’s domestic affairs and has no intention to do so in the future.”
Ms Efimova’s departure from Malta was only made known on August 3, when for the second consecutive time, she failed to turn up in court to answer to the fraud charges, related to claims by Pilatus Bank she misappropriated company funds.
The Attorney General’s Office last week rejected claims it indirectly helped Ms Efimova flee the country by not resisting her court requests to be granted travel rights.
The Opposition has accused the Prime Minister of “persecuting” Ms Efimova and of only protecting whistleblowers when it suited him.
PN says whistleblower should be given protection
The Nationalist Party has insisted that the government should stop intimidating the whistleblower, and instead offer protection, saying that the accusations she had made were very grave and implicated the Prime Minister.
It said that the government had boasted about introduced a law to protect whistleblowers but was now the one doing the threatening.
It said that the Maltese population was anxiously awaiting the outcome of the investigations being conducted by the inquiring magistrate, Aaron Bugeja.
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