The Malta Independent 16 May 2021, Sunday

Updated: Government publishes list of new citizens; does not indicate who came through IIP scheme

Friday, 29 December 2017, 09:16 Last update: about 4 years ago

Government has published a list containing names of all persons who have been naturalised or registered as citizens between January and December 2016, however failed to differentiate those who bought Maltese citizenship from the rest.

The list, contains around 2,000  names. The list, is awkwardly ordered in alphabetical order by name, rather than surname. A lot of the names in the list are Arabic, Asian, and Eastern European sounding.

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The IIP (Individual Investment Programme), better known as the cash-for-passports scheme, has been a controversial scheme since its outset. A number of foreign politicians have criticised the scheme, and it has been mentioned in a number of international publications as well. Government's refusal to identify which persons came through the IIP scheme has always raised questions.

In early December, this newspaper reported that the National Development and Social Fund had received more than €360 million from the citizenship for sale scheme by the end of November. The NSDF is a government agency established for the purpose of managing and administering seventy per cent of the contributions received from the Individual Investor Programme (IIP). By 30 November the fund had recorded total revenues of €360,561,597. Funds received by the NDSF are held in a segregated account in the name of the NDSF with the Central Bank of Malta.

During the month of November, the Fund had acquired the nil-paid rights issued to UniCredit S.p.A, as part of the €150,000,000 rights issue by Bank of Valletta p.l.c. (“BOV”). The new BOV shares will form part of NDSF’s long-term Directed Investment Portfolio, and will result in the Fund acquiring around 2.91% of BOV’s total shareholding. This was a controversial move, with the Opposition having said that government’s decision to use money raised through the IIP programme to purchase shares in Bank of Valletta raises a number of questions which needed to be clarified.

The PN had said that according to Legal Notice 2/2015, the funds collected from the IIP programme were to be used for twelve specific purposes. "The twelve specified purposes range from helping stakeholders deliver social, employment and educational projects, to fostering initiatives that support better governance, and to initiatives for the improvement of health and care for the elderly."

These twelve specific purposes do not allow for the purchase of shares by the government, the PN had said. "By using funds collected from the IIP for the purchase of shares in BOV, the government went against the provisions of the above mentioned Legal notice. The matter is further compounded by the fact that the government has a vested interest in BOV, it being a significant shareholder in BOV and appoints its chairman."

Partit Demokratiku calls for full transparency 

The Partit Demokratiku, in a statement, called for the publication of the names of all those who have purchased Maltese passports as part of the Individual Investor Programme.

"One of the main criteria for a person to be able to buy Maltese citizenship is that they are in good standing - therefore the call for transparency should not negatively affect the passport scheme unless these investors have something to hide, at a time when Malta's reputation may be at stake."

"Additionally, Partit Demokratiku questions whether the government has given in to lobbying pressure to fully lift the cap of 1800 applicants negotiated with the European Commission, since as of September 2017 the number of applicants stood at 1500."

"Furthermore, Partit Demokratiku asks where all the money attached to this programme has gone, how much of it has ended up in the Maltese treasury, and how much has ended up in consolidated funds. Partit Demokratiku highlights that until now, most of the infrastructure projects have depended on EU funding, and there are no serious plans in place to deal with Malta's intermediate and long term infrastructure or transport problems."

The PD asked: "Will the IIP money be used in a novel way to address these issues, such as infrastructure for alternative means of transport? How much has gone towards the national debt, which is currently over six billion euros? Similarly, it is imperative to ask who is paying for the Prime Minister's visits abroad to market this scheme."

Partit Demokratiku called for full transparency for the IIP programme, "which fundamentally devalues Maltese citizenship, particularly at a time when the need for good governance in Malta is at an all time high. It is Partit Demokratiku's intention to challenge the government in Parliament on this issue, and raise a debate about where the money is going and where it will be spent. It is evident we have a government where its responsibility to good governance leaves much to be desired."

 

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