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MALTATODAY 12 June 2022

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maltatoday | SUNDAY • 12 JUNE 2022 3 NEWS MATTHEW VELLA THE Nationalist Party's new home affairs spokesperson Joe Giglio – a one-time lawyer to the shuttered Pilatus Bank – has declared having "serious reserva- tions" on the credibility of Maria Efimova, a former bank employ- ee who famously told assassinat- ed journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia that the Panama com- pany Egrant belonged to former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's spouse. Giglio told Andrew Azzopardi on Malta's Heart this morning, that the Russian whistleblower, who never provided evidence of her claims in a magisterial inquiry, that he knew her as "a malevolent woman capable of getting herself into certain situa- tions... I had said back then that if the documents did exist, then no one would be able to see them but her." Giglio had served Pilatus Bank when Efimova was accused of using the company credit card to organise a training trip to Frank- furt, which she used to book her- self a room and for her husband and child. The bank filed a police report, and Efimova rebutted by claim- ing she had not been paid her wages. Giglio insisted Efimo- va had defrauded the bank, and even dismissed her claims of abuse by police officers. Giglio said he had reserva- tions about Efimova's claim that she was in possession of docu- ments linking Egrant to Muscat. "Backed as I was by crystal clear evidence that her claims that the bank hadn't paid her were inac- curate I had known Efimova as a person who can manipulate facts. However, I had hoped that perhaps she was telling the truth on the [Egrant] issue." A magisterial inquiry in 2018 disproved Efimova's claims linking Egrant to Muscat, find- ing contradictions in Efimova's and Daphne Caruana Galizia's testimonies, and falsified signa- tures in alleged declarations of trust that were handed to him by then Malta Independent edi- tor-in-chief Pierre Portelli. Efimova is charged with perju- ry, but an EAW for her extradi- tion was unsuccessful. Giglio dis- missed her suggestions that she doesn't want to return to Malta out of concern for her safety, but said she should be allowed to testify virtually in Muscat's libel case. Reactions to Joe Giglio's state- ments came from fellow MP Karol Aquilina, whose brother Robert is president of anti-cor- ruption NGO Repubblika, which has kept the memory of Caruana Galizia alive in its regular vigils. "Undermining the credibility of the Egrant whistleblower is not only highly irresponsible but also an insult to the memory of cou- rageous journalist Daphne Caru- ana Galizia and activists who have been fighting relentlessly for truth and justice." Nationalist MEP David Casa, who publicly took up Efimova's case and visited her in Greece when she imprisoned on the strength of the Maltese EWA, did not refer to Giglio but hit out at his former clients Pilatus Bank. "Those fighting for truth and jus- tice were insulted, ridiculed and even threatened because they stood up for what they believed in. Pilatus Bank remains a symbol of sheer corruption and a laun- dromat for illicit funds which de- stroyed Malta's reputation." Repubblika president Robert Aquilina also took issue with Giglio in a Facebook statement. "We brought down a corrupt prime minister: we did not fear Joseph Muscat's populism, Keith Schembri's bullying, the corrupt police corps, or the dirty cash of Yorgen Fenech... a criminal's lawyer is not going to impress us either. He can defend criminals and ridicule those who stand up to them as much as he likes. The tragedy is that he is using his con- stitutional position to do this." Giglio stirs up a storm with blunt comment on Egrant whistleblower Nationalist MP Joe Giglio

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