I’m sorry if I’m not letting go of this bone quite yet.

Illum last Sunday screamed tabloid headlines that Repubblika “accepted” donations from applicants for citizenship despite its publicly and loudly declared objections to the scheme. In this other post I explained my wonder at how they reached that conclusion when they had no basis to do so.

Let’s look closer at the NGOs benefitting from the scheme. If Illum was shocked at Repubblika receiving €1,500 from someone who never told us they were trying to buy their way into Maltese citizenship, these facts will positively boil their noodles.

The last publicly available report the government published has data updated to the end of 2021, a year and a bit ago.

Consider for example that Michelle Muscat’s Marigold Foundation pocketed €50,500 from applicants to the scheme. Another €10,000 were donated to Michelle Muscat’s Pink October.

You may have known that. Did you know that the Claris Foundation received €375,000 from donors applying for citizenship? Who’s the Claris Foundation, you might ask?

The Claris Foundation is “the charitable arm of Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates” who themselves retail Maltese citizenship. The handbook published by the citizenship-selling agency says that agents like Chetcuti Cauchi “should refrain from suggestion to their clients, voluntary organisations in which the agent’s shareholders or directors are involved”.

So, we must presume that the Claris Foundation does not receive donations from clients of Chetcuti Cauchi and is merely spectacularly fortunate to receive donations from clients of competing firms. Which explains the miracle that the Claris Foundation received so much money from the passport scheme while, for a time, its mother law firm was suspended as an agent after its owner was caught on tape promising to arrange for a passport for a fictitious applicant with a criminal record.

Updated: 17 May 2023 16:25. Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates sent this right of reply.

Here’s another one. Something called the “European Foundation for the Support of Culture” received €10,000 in donations. Now read this report of a sponsorship paid to the foundation by Alexey Kononenko, sometimes known as Alexey Shor, for some “event”. Shor acquired a Maltese passport, and this data suggests he may very well have paid a sponsorship to himself in support of his own application to become Maltese. Or this could be a coincidence. Right.

One more. Eleven per cent of the funds out of the donation scheme did not go to NGOs but were retained by the government through several of its agencies, like the university, companies completely owned by the state, statutory agencies, and local councils. Takes the shine off it, does it not?

None of these stories made the front page of Illum. €1,500 that went to Repubblika was the shocker of the week.