It’s not unpatriotic to denounce an injustice committed on our behalf, perhaps it’s the most patriotic thing we can do. – E.A. Bucchianeri
Last Monday the European Union said that it will start legal action against Malta and Cyprus over their ‘golden passport’ citizenship scheme. Which is being abused by criminals. EU Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said that infringement procedures will be launched against the two countries. The Commission had frequently raised its concerns about the schemes of the two states. Malta started selling citizenship in 2014. The scheme was never mentioned in the PL’s electoral manifesto in 2013.
Robert Abela, as always trying to find a scapegoat, told the media to thank Nationalist MEPs for choosing to repeatedly attack their country instead of defending it. Traitors.
Replying to these accusations, quislings Roberta Metsola and David Casa said that Robert Abela is “totally out of his depth when he said that we are responsible for the initiation of EU legal action against Malta.” In a tweet Roberta Metsola said “I am not sure what is more worrying, that he believes I am all powerful or he truly has no idea how these things work.”
David Casa said that Robert Abela always blamed the PN MEPs for the Commission’s actions: “It is always someone else’s fault, never his own. Absolutely pathetic.”
When launching the scheme back in 2014, Joseph Muscat declared that Malta’s IIP will have the strictest due diligence standards of any such programme in the world. He stated that all applicants must have a clean criminal record and that Malta will conduct extensive checks with Interpol and the International Criminal Court as part of the due diligence procedure.
But Opposition MP Karol Aquilina in a speech in Parliament rubbished all that, after a French TV station reported on the standards of conduct by local firms. Karol Aquilina recalled how Joseph Muscat had promised that the scheme would attract ‘talent’ to Malta. He then gave details of names who discredited the claim.
Boris Mints, a Russian citizen who obtained Maltese citizenship was arrested in the United Kingdom for fraud. He hasbeen sued for $1.3 billion in damages. Mints is an oligarch close to Vladimir Putin.
Liu Zhongtian, a Chines billionaire accused of the ‘biggest and most complex fraud scam ever in China.’ The case involves some $1.8 billion. The Chinese man ‘lives’ in a dinky apartment in Naxxar.
Pavel Melinkov, yet another Maltese citizen, was arrested during a major police operation in Finland, in which 400 officers were involved. The police found €3.5 million hidden stash in one of his properties.
Mustafa Abdel Wadood, an Egyptian millionaire was arrested in the US for fraud and conspiracy to commit a criminal offence including defrauding clients. He “…admitted to fraud and criminal behaviour while acquiring Maltese citizenship.”
Anatoly Borisovich Hurgin, of Russian-Israeli origin, was one of the first to apply for Maltese citizenship with an address at an empty Pender Gardens apartment. He obtained his citizenship in 2015 and he even got the right to vote in a general election. He owns companies which rely on hacking phone calls and messages. Together with a colleague, he was arrested for fraud and money laundering in the US. The case is so serious that Israel is investigating the matter on security issues. At the very same time that Hurgin was in the process of getting Maltese citizenship, he defrauded $75 million and ended up pocketing $19 million. Hurgin’s arrest sheet spans all of 41 pages.
There is no doubt that, while getting millions for the government, the golden passport scheme has been a disaster forMalta’s international reputation. It has been the subject of often scolding criticism by the European Parliament and other international institutions based on the fact that a Maltese passport provides access to the entire European Union.
The fact that Identity Malta refuses to give out statistics of each individual agency, and their success rate in getting applicants their citizenship also worries the EU. There is also no public follow-up by the by the regulator of the IIP on the certifiable value of properties bought or rented by applicants and the use of false addresses used by the agents.
Malta’s lack of enforcement in the controversial golden passport scheme was put under the microscope of anti-corruption NGO Global Witness who asked many a time for the suspension of the scheme. In a report the NGO noted that the minor changes proposed by Malta in October 2019 were cosmetic and protected the existing situation.
Global Witness put forward a number of recommendations to the European Union to stop the schemes which expose the whole of the EU to significant money laundering, tax evasion, corruption and security threats. “It is time for the EU to act and ensure that all member states end this practice that rolls out a red carpet for the super-rich and corrupt,” the NGO concluded.
Towards the end of 2019 the European Parliament reiterated its call for Malta to end its investor citizenship scheme. While the IIP regulator acknowledged that there exist an element of risk and to eliminate these risks the scheme had to be scrapped. But, Robert Abela, defender of Malta not like the traitors Metsola and Casa, has made it clear that he intended to renew the scheme.
So basically Roberta Metsola and David Casa are not traitors all, Mr Prime Minister. Indeed, they are the ones who are trying to protect Malta’s reputation. Not selling it to corrupt criminals.