The Malta Independent 23 January 2019, Wednesday

UK Labour MP asks if government spoke to Maltese authorities over sale of passports

Helena Grech Monday, 12 February 2018, 08:08 Last update: about 12 months ago

A Labour MP from the British House of Commons, Liam Byrne, quizzed the economic secretary to the treasury, John Glen as to whether the UK government has had any communication with the Maltese government regarding financial crimes within the context of its cash-for passport scheme.

Byrne quizzed his Conservative counterpart in the form of a Parliamentary question made on 31 January 2018.

The PQ asks Glen, with reference to the rule of law report penned by an ad-hoc delegation of MEPs which came to Malta between November 2017 and December 2017, "what representations he has made to the government of Malta on money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion in the UK as a result of the country's sale of passports to investors?"


In his reply, Glen stated: "The UK believes that multilateral cooperation is essential in tackling money laundering, tax evasion and all forms of cross-border financial crime. The UK discusses these issues regularly at international fora, and through bilateral dialogues as appropriate."

MEPs visited Malta to investigate the rule of law after journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was brutally assassinated in a car bomb, metres away from her Bidnija residence. Malta has been no stranger to European Parliament scrutiny after it emerged that Minister Konrad Mizzi and the PM's chief of staff Keith Schembri were found to have Panama companies sheltered by New Zealand trusts. Both deny wrongdoing.

In the wake of Panama Papers allegations, and then later allegations against the PM's wife, a series of leaked FIAU reports pointed towards wrongdoing surrounding the controversial citizenship-forpassport scheme.

Malta has increasingly made negative headlines especially due to a lack of police investigations on serious allegations.

The government introduced the controversial passport scheme as early as 2014, initially saying it would be capped at 1,800 applicants. Following another historic victory at the election polls, which was called a year early because of the nature of the allegations against top government officials, government has now announced it will be extending the scheme.

In the rule of law report penned by the ad-hoc EP committee, concern was expressed about a lack of investigations surrounding passport-sale allegations and further allegations on the seriousness of due diligence procedures.

To receive a Maltese passport, IIP applicants currently must fork out €650,000 and provide a €150,000 investment in government stocks or bonds, as well as satisfy property requirements and pass Identity Malta due diligence procedures.


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