The below was sent in by a Dr Charlene Mifsud in response to this earlier post. As usual comments are not posted under a post carrying a reply.
- In your blogpost, you allege that in his work as an IIP agent under the 2014 Individual Investor Programme, a lawyer at the firm raised funds from applicants using the firm’s charitable foundation in breach of a conflict of interest rule, contained in the handbook published by the citizenship-selling agency, which precluded the firm from recommending such foundation to its clients. You may wish to note, however, that the said handbook and rule were inexistent at the time such funds were raised, and were only introduced in September 2020, following the legislative amendments which were made to the said Programme.
- The donations to which you refer in your blogpost were donations made under the 2014 programme, and therefore prior to the introduction of such handbook and rule. This is confirmed by today’s Times of Malta Fact Check (https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/factcheck-ngos-unaware-passport-scheme-donations.1031408) where Claris Foundation is NOT listed as a beneficiary of the new programme. It is also confirmed by the ABSENCE of Claris Foundation on the original reply to the Parliamentary Question listing beneficiaries under the new program:https://pq.gov.mt/PQWeb.nsf/7561f7daddf0609ac1257d1800311f18/c1257d2e0046dfa1c12589a4004027f8!OpenDocument
- Therefore your presumption that the Claris Foundation did “not receive donations from clients” of the firm, or was “spectacularly fortunate to receive donations from clients of competing firms”, is totally unfounded, misplaced, and misinformed.
- Claris Foundation, which you have sought to cast a bad light on, operated between 2008 and 2021 and was dissolved in 2022. Until its liquidation, it donated all funds raised, over €400,000, to predominantly other Maltese registered voluntary organisations in furtherance of its mission to support children and refugees in need.
The administration of the funds is fully and accurately documented and annually reported to the Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations. All such records, including audited accounts, are available to the public on request from the Office of the Commissioner of Voluntary Organisations. Therefore, with a little effort, you could have easily verified that the sum mentioned in your blogpost was, indeed, donated in full by the Claris Foundation, without any deductions.
Lastly, you refer to allegations that a lawyer was caught on tape suggesting that he could arrange a passport of a fictitious person. This does not result from the footage published by its producers and less so from the full footage obtained by court order from the said producers and submitted to the various authorities. Moreover, the original untampered footage shows him making a statement to the contrary of what you alleged, leaving no room for misunderstanding.
Chetcuti Cauchi is humbled to have raised this amount of donations from its own partners, staff and the firm’s business and personal clients. We encourage other firms, who operate similar charitable initiatives, to keep focusing on the cause and continue undeterred.