Here is the second part of the detailed interview I conducted with Pilatus whistleblower Maria Efimova.
Labour has been putting a spin on a phrase in the European Parliament report in Malta that said that Efimova “indicated she was not the original source” for Daphne Caruana Galizia’s reporting on the Egrant case. Leave aside for a moment the fact that it takes a particular inability to rank your priorities if recommendations to fire Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri are ignored when this footnote is given all importance.
Well the spin is a frenzied panic. The picture that emerges from this new interview is that it is not true that Daphne Caruana Galizia relied on one single source. She waited to corroborate information in her possession and Maria Efimova was who she corroborated the information with.
More of that will become known in other portions of the interview.
In the meantime here’s Part 2.
Part 3 will be uploaded tomorrow.
MD: Let me get the timeframes right. When was this, that you were realising these transactions related to Egrant? About when was it, was it in 2017 and when in 2017?
ME: No, no, I was working in the Bank from January 2016 to March 2016 and I saw many shortcomings in that short period and every time I saw something that was not in compliance with applicable legislation I would inform Legal Officer of the Bank.
MD: OK. So this is about three months and you had a few conversations with the Legal Officer of the Bank reporting suspicious…
ME: Yes the Legal and the Chief Executive Officer as well.
MD: OK. How many conversations like this do you think you had?
ME: Mainly I cannot recall every now but it was let’s say more than ten.
MD: More than ten conversations about suspicious transactions in a period of three months. Did you get the feeling that they felt you were being a troublemaker, that they preferred it if you just shut up and stop bringing these things up?
ME: Yes, they were not actually listening to what I’m saying, they just kept telling that it’s not my business and I should mind my own business.
MD: I understand. Now, quite apart from this, it was an unhappy time for you at the Bank. I mean, we’ve read all the stories, they filed a report with the Police against you about misappropriation, they were late or didn’t actually pay you what they had to pay you, so it became a very sour atmosphere. I imagine they would argue that the report of misappropriation they filed against you, and your dismissal, had nothing to do with your reports about suspicious transactions. What would you say to that, do you think it was related to that, do you think it was a consequence of the reports you were making?
ME: I’m sure the fact that they didn’t pay me was a consequence of the reports of suspicious transactions I was making. They wanted to pass, I believe so ok, it’s only my opinion, but I believe that they wanted to pass a message to me that I’m no one, that they are in position of power, and because that I’m trying to comply with legislation I don’t deserve to be paid. So and of course they didn’t expect me I believe to go to Department of Employment Relations and file a complaint because they knew that I’m not European Union citizen and I’m new in Malta so probably they believed and they wanted to pass a message to other employees I believe, like stay calm, don’t speak, otherwise you’re not getting paid.
MD: OK let’s speak about other employees. Were you the only one, you know, having these problems with these suspicious transactions or were there, I don’t know, water cooler conversations with other staff members and other people said, ‘you know, things are not really working the way they should here’.
ME: When I was working there, I got impression I was the only one who knew, who was educated on the subject of compliance and prevention of money laundering. All the other employees, as far as I understood, they came to the Bank from, not from financial, they didn’t have financial experience for, compliance experience for to join the Bank
MD: I understand.
ME: So actually nobody was, apart from the Legal Officer and management, nobody was understanding what is going on, they were just doing what they have been told to do.
MD: Ok, so you’re in the Bank between January and March 2016, that’s quite some time ago, and in this time you made these reports. Did you take possession of copies of documentation of these suspicious transactions while you were working there, and did you take these copies outside the building of the Bank?
ME: No, I didn’t take the copies outside the building but I registered the fact of existence of those documents.
MD: You registered them with the Bank.
ME: No, I mean I certified the fact that they were existing.
MD: You certified it with the Bank when you made your reports, or you certified them in a different way that I’m not understanding?
ME: No, in a different way.
MD: OK. So, I suppose the real question is this. From those three months in the Bank, is there in your possession, or in a way that you can access if you decided you needed to, documentation that you can show that can support the claims that you’ve made about suspicious transactions?
ME: No, now I don’t have in possession any documentation to show to the authorities.
MD: Very well. OK. So what we are, or what your claims rely on right now, is your personal testimony of what you have seen with your eyes and your recollection, your memory, am I right? That is what this is based on.
MD: Ok. So, there was a moment then that you decided you could not keep this for yourself any more. There was a moment when you decided listen, I am going to speak up about this. There was a moment, I imagine, unless you’ve done something else which I don’t know about, when you decided to contact Daphne Caruana Galizia. Can you tell me about that decision, can you tell me what brought you to that decision and how you went about it?
ME: Yes, in October 2016, when I was already in the process of Pilatus Bank acting against me with this claim of misappropriation and I didn’t have my documents to travel, my mother had passed away and I hadn’t been given permission to go to her funeral, so that was a moment of, for me to take a decision.
MD: Ok let me stop you there for a moment
ME: So they are doing impossible stuff, they are treating me very badly, I did what I could do I mean in a legal way, I made complaint to the Department, I contacted various Ministers even Prime Minister, asking to help, for help, but nobody replied, so I decided that I should use the information I have against the Bank because it’s the only way to fight it.
MD: Alright. So. Just to rephrase, because I myself skipped a logical step here. So you left the Bank, you left, you were made to leave, whatever, you were no longer working at the Bank from March 2016. In the meantime there’s this process where they are using the Police to chase you for misappropriation. As part of this process, your passport is taken away from you, you are going through a hard time because your mother dies, you ask for permission to get your passport back in order to go to her funeral, you’re not allowed to go to her funeral, you’re hurt and you say listen, these people, you know, they cannot do this to me, they are doing something wrong, something needs to be done about that, I’m going to do something about it. And you decided to speak to Daphne Caruana Galizia. Is that correct?
ME: Yes, yes, it is correct.
MD: Very good. How did you approach her?
ME: I sent her an email, I saw her email in her blog that she had online, and it was saying you can email your story and I sent her an email. However she came back to me only in I think end of February 2017 so not immediately.
MD: OK, did you meet with her face to face, did you have a discussion?
ME: Yes, yes, I think that in the beginning of March 2017 my first time and we were discussing information I have.