An appellate court in Greece has affirmed a lower court decision declining a request from Malta to extradite the Russian whistleblower Maria Efimova, the former bank employee who helped the assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia expose financial crime and Iran sanctions evasion at now-shuttered Pilatus Bank. The Maltese government's petition for extradition was held by the lower Greek court to be vague and irregular and found that she would neither get a fair trial in Malta nor be protected while in custody.
The arrest warrant from Malta, which alleged that Efimova provided false evidence, false accusations, and theft, allegedly was politically motivated, and have no factual basis. Powerful politicians in Malta, some of whom have been exposed in the Panama Papers, and thereafter scalded by the media for reputed corruption, are believed to be behind the government's action.
The court system in Malta, which is regarded by many observers as corrupt, with two recent court cases involving judges accused of bribery, may have been a factor in the Greek court's ruling as were allegations of governmental corruption in Malta, irrespective of the law. The corruption, when paired with a citizenship by investment (CBI) program where the effectiveness of the due diligence investigations of applicants has been questioned, has increased Country Risk for Malta among compliance officers in the EU, for valid reasons. Investigations by the EU, into both the CBI programs and money laundering allegations, are pending.
Chronicles of Monte Friesner - Financial Crime Analyst
Contributed by Kenneth Rijock - Financial Crime Consultant