The Cyprus connection

The Cyprus connection

Timesofmalta.com (not the printed paper) this morning reports: “arrest warrant for Russian whistleblower issued in Cyprus – reports. She is being accused of stealing from a company she worked for four years ago”.

The Times is covering a piece on the Cyprus Business Mail though it does not link to it. The link is here.

That report quotes MEPs saying they believe “Maria Efimova should be granted asylum, since she is at serious risk”.

The Cypriot newspaper speaks to Efimova who says “that she was ‘100 per cent’ certain that the complaint (from a former employer who says she stole from them) was part of a plot organised in Malta to publicly discredit her or have her extradited to Malta”.

Maria Efimova also discussed this Cyprus matter in her interview with me. In the instalment I uploaded yesterday I asked her if she had had any more episodes of harassment or pressure since private detectives were sent to her neighbourhood to check if she had been lying about her mother’s death. She wasn’t.

Here is a transcript of that exchange which can be heard here:

MD:       Was there any other, I don’t know, approaches to previous employers, any other initiatives taken by someone who wanted to make your life difficult?

ME:        Yes, yes. Just, let’s say a couple of days ago, I heard from my father again, again he had a visit from some authorities represented in Russia, not the police, other authorities, they came to his house and they told him that there is a request from my previous employer in Cyprus that they just filed a complaint against me with the Cypriot authorities and they wanted to learn some information about me.  So that’s why I found out that my previous employer, for whom I was working like almost four years ago, he had, out of sudden, he had a complaint.

MD:       So.   Ok let me clarify this a bit.  Your father was visited by authorities of the Russian state or private investigators again.

ME:        No, no.  Russian state.

MD:       So the Russian state police, or authorities, whoever they are, they were acting on request of the Cypriot police I imagine.  Is this correct?

ME:        Yes

MD:       Yes.  Ok.  So when this conversation happened, what did you do?  Did you try to get in touch with the Russian authorities, or maybe the Cyprus authorities or maybe your former employer?   Did you try to do something to find out what’s going on here?

ME:        Yes, of course, immediately.  It was just before Christmas, I mean, the Catholic Christmas, which is in December, and I immediately tried to call Cypriot police and my former employer but they were not answering so I managed to spoke to them just last week.  My former employer is still not willing to speak, but I managed to speak to the Cypriot police and they told me that my former employer a month ago filed a complaint and but they didn’t disclose more information, they told me that I should come to Cyprus and then they will tell me.

MD:       It’s a bit strange, right, you know, that you were working there four years ago, you heard nothing from them, then after four years they go to make a police report.  And is it a bit strange that they also had your father’s address, the same address the private investigators working for a Maltese political person found, tried to find you at?

ME:        Yes it was actually a bit strange that they approached immediately my father, I mean, they didn’t try first to make a request to Moscow, they just come straight to him and, I was making my researches of course, because all this situation is not something usual, and it cannot be explained by you know something usual, I was checking the director of the company who made the complaint, she’s working in corporate services provider company, she’s an employee of the corporate services provider, the Cypriot company, and I found out that this corporate services provider, I just found out today because I was looking for information and I found out that they are serving some Azerbaijanian company.  So that speaks to me, says something familiar.

Like the Cyprus Business Mail I have spoken directly with Natalia Antoniou who is a director of the perfumery Efimova worked for. I got the same answers.

This is from the Cyprus Business Mail: “After inquiring in Cyprus, Efimova discovered that Natalia Antoniou, an employee at the Limassol-based Costas Tsirides & Co L.L.C. law firm, filed a complaint with the police against her in December, in her capacity as director of Fragrance Distribution, for allegedly stealing from the company. ‘After four years, did they now happen to have remembered this?’ asked Efimova. She was surprised that despite preparing company accounts in previous years there was never a complaint about her stealing. In a telephone interview, Antoniou said that she had filed the complaint four years ago on the instructions of the ultimate beneficial owner of Fragrance Distribution, which led to the issuing of a European arrest warrant.”

Therefore according to the Cypriot employer the complaint against Maria Efimova was filed four years ago. It appears however that this is only being acted upon now.

Maria Efimova speaks of a series of attempts to discredit her. Certainly there are many people of influence who would benefit either from her silence or, failing that, the destruction of her character and reputation. She lists this Cyprus incident as part of this effort to isolate her and discredit her.

She remains defiant.

Speaking to the Cyprus Business Mail, left-wing Cypriot MEP Takis Hadjigeorgiou said that while his and his colleagues’ request for asylum to be granted to Maria Efimova is not binding, “it is significant pressure” on member states to protect her.

A game is being played in the court of public opinion and the game being played is intended to pre-empt the possibility that the issue might ever come to a court. In court perceptions should in principle be irrelevant. Only the facts remain. But Joseph Muscat was Alfred Sant’s poodle in the campaign to discredit the witness Joseph “il-ħafi” Fenech in order to have Meinrad Calleja exonerated.

This time the man who needs to be let go from the dock is the former poodle himself, all grown up.