The Malta Independent 18 April 2024, Thursday
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Attorney General rejects allegations whistleblower’s disappearance ‘made easy’

Friday, 11 August 2017, 09:58 Last update: about 8 years ago

The Attorney General rejected claims made in the social media that his office made it easy for Maria Efimova, the whistleblower involved in Egrant allegations, to leave the country.

Efimova was at the heart of allegations that the Prime Minister’s wife is the owner of a company opened in Panama, named Egrant. She was recently put on the wanted list after it transpired she had left the country.

In a statement issued via the Department of Information, the AG said that when Efimova was charged with theft, misappropriation of funds and fraud on 24 August 2016, the prosecution, led by a former police officer who is reported to have always objected to her being granted bail, had not opposed but demanded certain conditions to be imposed.

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The court had granted bail on condition that the accused deposited her Russian passport, her internal Russian passport and make a personal guarantee of €8,500, while signing at a police station at regular intervals.

On 30 August, Efimova had filed an application to be allowed to go abroad and the court had ordered her to submit an effective deposit of €9,500 and a personal guarantee of €15,000.

On 7 September she had filed another application to go abroad, requesting the amount imposed by the court previously to be reduced because she did not have the means to pay them.

The Attorney General’s Office had objected to the request, fearing the intention to escape.

In a ruling on 12 September, the court had partially accepted the applicant’s request by reducing the effective deposit to €5,000 and removed the personal guarantee.

On 29 March 2017, Efimova had presented a court application to be given the opportunity to go abroad on work duties because the company employing her at the time had offices in Spain, Germany and the Czech Republic. She had requested permission to go abroad on a personal guarantee of €8,500 she had been asked to make when she was granted bail, and that her documents are released. The documents included the Russian passport, her residence permit (which the accused referred to as her identity card) and the internal Russian passport. To sustain this application, the accused deposited her work contract showing that she had been employed since 9 May 2016 and that the company did have offices in the countries mentioned.

The Attorney General’s Office had not objected to the request but demanded that certain conditions are imposed – such as that only the Russian passport is handed over and that travelling was restricted to the three countries named. The AG also requested that an effective deposit of €2,000 is submitted and that the police are informed of her return within 12 hours of arrival.

The court acceded to the request made by Efimova and restricted her travelling to just EU countries and that the €2,000 deposit is made.

On 19 April 2017, the accused had filed another application to request that her residence permit (which she called identity card) and Russian internal passport are given back to her. The AG had not opposed the application on condition that the identity card is restricted for use only in Spain, Germany and the Czech Republic, and that Efimova deposits the Russian passport to the court. The AG had objected to the release of the internal passport.

The court had refused the whistleblower’s application.

The court is still in possession of the Russian passport, the Russian internal passport and the residence permit, which, it is clear, were not used by Efimova for her departure from Malta.

This shows that the AG did not make it easy for her to disappear, the statement said.

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