And bang on cue: the government emails parliament with changes to the Citizenship Act, allowing the ‘sale’ of Maltese citizenship to ‘investors’

Published: October 8, 2013 at 12:15pm
Shiv Nair, Joseph Muscat's 'consultant': he has found a way to fix the sale of EU passports to his Tajikistani, Georgian, Sudanese, Indian and Chinese business contacts.

Shiv Nair, Joseph Muscat’s ‘consultant’: he has found a way to fix the sale of EU passports to his Tajikistani, Georgian, Sudanese, Indian and Chinese business contacts.

The document setting up Identity Malta (a failed Labour candidate has been chosen to run it) made it obvious that one of its primary functions would be the sale of Maltese citizenship to selected individuals.

Then yesterday Bloomberg Business Week carried an interview with the prime minister in which he spoke about “exciting programmes” for “selling” residency in Malta and Maltese citizenship.

See my post about the subject, which I uploaded yesterday and have now pinned to the top of the page immediately before this one.

Now I have received a copy of an email which Owen Bonnici, the PS for Justice, copied to the party whips last Saturday, and which was in turn forwarded to members of parliament, with attached amendments to the Citizenship Act which will allow the government to sell Maltese citizenship to selected individuals.

They are calling the new legislation the ‘Malta Individual Investor Programme Regulations’. The documents are in PDF format here – click on them to read the full text.

This has yet to be published in The Government Gazette and debated in parliament.

And no, it wasn’t either party whip who sent it to me. It wasn’t even a member of parliament, for that matter.

Malta IIP Regulations Draft 041013 _3_

Maltese Citizenship _Amendment0 Act 2013 -041013

These are the crucial points to bear in mind.

1. Maltese citizenship is EU citizenship. What these ‘selected individuals’ will be buying is not Maltese citizenship – why would anyone want that, who doesn’t have Maltese blood or a Maltese family? – but an EU passport.

2. The only individuals who are after an EU passport are those whose current passport puts up obstacles in their path or hinders their freedom of movement and of business throughout the EU. These would be passports from African states, states of the former Soviet Union, the Indian sub-continent, and China. Americans, Canadians, and Australians will not be seeking to buy Maltese citizenship for its EU status, nor will – for obvious reasons – the citizens of the other 27 EU member states, who have an EU passport already.

3. The government’s lead consultant – who has been Muscat’s adviser all along – is a shady character called Shiv Nair, who has been permanently debarred by the World Bank for fraud and corruption. He operates in Sudan, China, Georgia, Tajikistan and other ‘difficult’ states of the former USSR. His wife is from one of those states. Anybody with half a brain can see already what the plan is here: sale of Maltese/EU citizenship on commission to contacts in those states, who are desperate for an EU passport which will allow them to live and operate in Britain and other parts of the EU.

49 Comments Comment

  1. Claude Sciberras says:

    Is this legal? Isn’t there also EU legislation to cover this?

  2. La Redoute says:

    But they’ve told us about a Family Business Act which will make Malta unique.

    So that’s all right, then.

  3. AE says:

    Americans also would be interested in obtaining a Maltese passport if they also give up their American one. There are good tax reasons for doing so. They are taxed on their worldwide income because of their nationality.

    I do not know what the situation is with Canadians and Australians.

    I do have an issue with a passport being for sale to persons who have no connection with Maltese society. Somehow it cheapens us. However, we do need to see whether other EU states have any sort of economic citizenship programmes.

    I am not sure that this should be something that is left up to the individual governments but one that should be determined at EU level, since as you rightly point out a Maltese passport is an EU one, with all the rights that this entails.

    This is not something to be done lightly and only serious investment into our country – say a minimum of Eur1 million – with various other conditions such as actually being resident here, should be attached.

    Without a doubt, due diligence must be thorough and the individual concerned must be beyond reproach in every respect. Shiv Nair for one, should most definitely NOT qualify.

    • it-Tezi ta' Mario says:

      Shiv Nair has a British passport.

      Due diligence by Muscat’s government is worth nothing at all. Muscat appointed Shiv Nair as his consultant AFTER Nair was personally and permanently debarred by the World Bank for fraud and corruption, along with not one, but two, of his companies: Lonestar Supplies and Logistics (PVT) Ltd. (formerly Amani B P Ltd) and Consultants for International Developments plc. Both of those companies have had to be dissolved.

    • Edward Clemmer says:

      Dual taxation agreements between the U.S. and Malta remove the double-taxation problem.

      • AE says:

        Its not double taxation but onerous obligations under US law which result in American citizens living abroad having to pay high professional fees to get advice nice they are so complicated.

  4. Salvu says:

    CRAZY. No other word for this. We risk being double-kicked out of the EU.

  5. Paul Bonnici says:

    When Mintoff was in power in the early eighties, France imposed a visa requirement for the Maltese so I needed a visa to go to France.

    Maybe this will happen again.

    [Daphne – Not possible. You’re an EU citizen.]

  6. Josette says:

    Tbażwira … both in terms of principle and drafting. Didn’t they even bother to have these documents proofread?

  7. TROY says:


  8. it-Tezi ta' Mario says:

    Lonestar Corporation Ltd depends on business financed by international financial institutions:

    Nair is black listed by the World Bank for fraud and corruption. Is that why his name does not appear on the company’s records, and why the company secretary is a nominee, i.e. a front for another person who wishes to remain hidden?

  9. RoyB says:

    Right, so it appears that the face value of a Maltese citizenship is €18,200.

    Can I sell mine before it depreciates further?

    • ciccio says:

      No one in the EU is going to buy a Maltese citizenship, whose main purpose is to have an EU passport. So please quote your price in Yuan or Ruble.

    • Osservatore says:

      What about the Eur650K contribution to the National Development Fund? I cannot understand what happens with this.

      This Act is really badly drafted.

  10. Numerus says:

    Shouldn’t the EU stop this disgrace?

    [Daphne – It can’t, because investor/citizenship programmes are within the loose boundaries of legality. It’s what you DO WITH the law afterwards that has the potential for abuse and danger, and as we have seen in practically every other sphere of government administration over the last six/seven months, as long as it’s legal, they’ll do it, and never mind the ethics or the negative consequences for Malta.]

  11. bull's eye says:

    Not crazy at all, just very dangerous. I hope the European Commission will keep a close watch on this scandalous move.

  12. Sue says:

    No wonder they have posted staunch PL supporters in Malta’s embassies in Tripoli, Moscow, Beijing, Saudi Arabia (where the ambassador is now Nair’s business associate, Jaime Cremona), India, and the like, and did away with career diplomats.

    It all makes sense now.

  13. TROY says:

    We might as well have the ‘TORCA’ replacing the George Cross.
    Dik taghna wkoll.

  14. canon says:

    Everything is for sale now. Joseph Muscat & Co already sold their principles.

  15. Angus Black says:

    I thought at the outset that the sale of Malta to China and other interested parties had been concluded well ahead of the election, and that the details will slowly emerge in small installments.

    This is one of them and nothing can be done to stop it now.

  16. Interested Bystander says:

    Why this storm in a tea-cup? This is nothing new, and something that is already done in several countries, including EU member states. The UK does it, Ireland does it, Belgium does it, Australia does it, Canada does it, the US does it, and so on.

    Is it a problem just because the “wrong” government is bringing it in?

    Imagine 1,000 persons taking this up, at a price of €1m each. Yep, that’s a cool billion into the state coffers (or approx 1/4 of the total government debt). No wonder it looks an attractive proposition for a government who needs to find alternative sources of revenue.

    [Daphne – ‘Is it a problem because the ‘wrong’ government is bringing it in?’ No, it’s a problem because the wrong people will be running it. They’re not going to be selling passports for a million euros each. The aim is not to raise revenue for Malta. The aim is to secure EU passports for individuals from ‘difficult’ states, with the main beneficiaries being the buyers and the sellers – and by sellers, I don’t mean the government of Malta. You are approaching this from the wrong angle.]

    • silvio loporto says:

      Persons who would pay I million Euro for a Maltese citizenship, are after much more than becoming Maltese.

      The Govt should make sure that these persons,have not been refused by other E.U countries,and just using us to entering the E.U, as they say through the window, once the door has been closed for them.

      [Daphne – Too late, Mr Loporto. You voted them in.]

      • silvio loporto says:

        Dear Mrs Caruana Galizia. That doesn’t mean that I have to agree with everything they do.
        This is one of them and I am sure that there will be more in the future.

        [Daphne – Decisions like that don’t come out of nowhere, Mr Loporto. They are part of a whole.]

    • Anthony V. Falzon says:

      Nothing new at all. The U.S. has a similar investor visa (E-2) program to attract high net worth individuals to the U.S. and give them a path to citizenship – for a price.

      [Daphne – Anthony, I hope for your sake that you are not working in any field that requires intelligence. American citizenship is among the world’s most sought-after. By comparison, nobody wants Maltese citizenship except as back-door entry to the rest of the European Union. The way to approach this is not to say ‘the US does it’ but to ask yourself: “Who on earth would want to buy a Maltese passport?” You have your answer right there. But I bet you haven’t asked that question yet. I’m going to spell it out in capital letters: THE WORLD’S DESIRABLE AND RESPECTABLE INVESTORS ALREADY HAVE DESIRABLE AND RESPECTABLE PASSPORTS. A Chinese passport may not be desirable, but China does not allow dual citizenship. This means we are not going to get any Chinese who want to retain their contacts with their investments back home.]

      • Anthony V. Falzon says:

        Again nothing untoward here. Malta is simply doing what the U.S. and other EU countries are doing. In Malta’s case attracting investment from high net worth individuals into the local economy at a time of sluggish growth in exchange for EU citizenship. The only glaring omission in the regulations is a residency requirement, unless I overlooked that. Otherwise all other reasonable safeguards are there including background checks etc. It will attract capitalists fleeing the shores of their home countries in times of political uncertainty looking to set up a home for themselves and bringing capital and know how to Malta. The story here is not the fact that citizenship is being sold but that citizenship is being sold without a qualifying residency period. Basically, (putting the worst possible gloss on this proposed legislation, as a politically motivated critic of the Labour government like you would do) once they pay for their Maltese passports they can move to another EU country and never have to invest another red cent into the local economy.

    • Interested Bystander says:

      In other words, you are not against the programme per se, it is just that you are afraid that the people in charge of it will abuse it?

      [Daphne – No, I am against the programme too. I depart from the premiss that, with extremely rare exceptions, nobody would want to buy Maltese citizenship unless 1. their own passport is a serious problem or obstacle to what they wish to do; 2. they are trying to get away from something (not tax); 3. the EU member state they really do want access to (Britain, France, Germany) will not give them citizenship. Malta is not Britain: there is nobody clamouring for Maltese citizenship in itself and for its own sake. This state of affairs, coupled with the fact of who will be administering the system, is a recipe for wholesale abuse.]

      I had a look at the proposed regulations, and they seem relatively tight to me and in line with EU rules on anti-money laundering etc. So is the fear based on just a “hunch” or is it a bit more substantive?

      [Daphne – It is based on the fact that I have worked as a journalist in Malta for 25 years, know all the characters involved, am well aware of how things are done, have a fairly reasonable level of intelligence, am quite well informed, and make the reasonable observation that those who have absolutely no qualms about doing what they have done already will have no qualms about selling Maltese passports to suspect Tajikistanis, Georgians and members of the Chinese Communist mafia. There is a reason for this law, and the reason is not revenue-raising for Malta. It is obtaining passports for individuals who would have been identified already. I really think you need to grow up and stop taking things at face value, and I don’t mean that offensively. You cannot apply the standards of the German government to what Malta has in charge now. Face value is a no-no. The assumption that all is above board and normal is out of the question.]

  17. Giovanni says:

    Two very important stories of a few days ago being investigated now by the web news portals: Shiv Nair on and James Dyson on

    You are just running both their newsrooms – without one of your own.

  18. etil says:

    Malta had better tighten its money-laundering legislation first.

  19. Vagabond King says:

    How Mintoff must be turning in his grave – Malta l-ewwel u qabel kollox.

    • Josette says:

      If they use this law to give citizenship to their socialist/communist friends, Mintoff will be applauding them from his special place in hell. The foreigners he objected to were those who came from countries with democratic traditions and who recognised him for what he was.

  20. Colin says:

    How about selling MY Maltese citizenship? I’ve had enough!

  21. Edward says:

    Dear Laburisti and “swing voters”,

    As we can now see the honoraria issue was, to quote your own catch phrase, ” a storm in a tea cup”. As we can see, it was actually a fair thing to do for our politicians, which was going to be granted to both sides of the house to make the compensation for their work and sacrifices fairer and proportionate. Muscat just stirred you all up, framing the situation with the bitterness of the politics of labour’s past to appeal to a mentality that we all thought was long gone: the idea that the PN is for rich people and the elite.

    Despite creating a healthy middle class and reducing unemployment to a level lower than many other EU countries, and bringing business and prosperity to our country and steadily raising people out of poverty, you actually thought that the PN only protected the rich and thought only about money.

    Despite opening new schools, creating MCAST to give students another avenue towards a better future, and expanding it, you actually let yourselves get carried away by the thought that the PN and the evil klikka wanted to keep people down.

    Despite the 25 years of steady, consistent and sound leadership, from a dilapidated communist country to a country with a middle class, to an EU country and then to the only country in the South of Europe that wasn’t broke, you thought we needed some change in direction, without having that change explained to you.

    Didn’t you think it was strange that you were all cheering for things you didn’t know about or have any information on? Didn’t you think it was strange how you could suddenly be so supportive of a party that for so long has been staunchly against any of the progress Malta has enjoyed? And didn’t you stop to question why Muscat felt so confident he could slash out so much cash? Or were they all “negative” questions that ruined your “abundance”?

    Logic would have dictated that no one would have voted for the PL from the second they mentioned the “golden years”, because none of you would have wanted to go back to that after experiencing such comfort for 25 years and would have put up with a few more clocks or a late bus or two gladly. But no.

    The PN spent the whole campaign telling us how little the PL actually knew. They highlighted all the gaps in their information. Provided you with facts, figures and proof that what Muscat was promising was not possible, but you thought facts, figures and proof was negative and creating limits to your “infinite financial resources” you convinced yourself of.

    So many people tried desperately to highlight all those indicators that told us that Muscat was not being honest or was hiding things, and that his “Positive” religion was dangerous. Even if we didn’t, it’s all there on the internet for you to read about. But no, we were the ones who were brainwashed.

    Well guess what: We were right. Not brainwashed- RIGHT. And you all have no excuses.

  22. drewsome says:

    The Isle of honey? The fortress of the Knights? The nurse of the Mediterranean? The unsinkable aircraft carrier?

    Nope…more like the tart of Europe out for a quick buck, followed by a eventual, painful bout of the clap.

    That Bloomberg interview? Eminently cringeworthy.

  23. canon says:

    Why is it that Joseph Muscat’s initiatives must always be dubious in nature? Why can’t we ever have anything straightforward and normal?

  24. blucity says:

    Can I sell my citizenship? I’m really ashamed to be Maltese.

  25. Change?!?! says:

    I don’t even know what to think about this! My brain just can’t even fathom the sheer blooming stupidity of it!

    So other than the obvious benefits (and I use the term sarcastically) for those who want to get an EU passport for some slimy reason of their own, what stops the oh so wise government we have from inadvertently selling a passport to a blooming terrorist or drug cartel. Won’t they then get freedom of movement too?

    If the prime minister doesn’t know that his consultant has been permanently debarred by the World Bank for the last 13 years, then how is he going to know who the drug-lords are?

    How about a Maltese passport for somebody big in Columbia? Why not.

    Those 18,000 people who made the change to Labour (again using the term loosely) should feel their stomachs shrinking in shame for what they have done. I bet they didn’t vote for THIS.

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