Italy’s leading newspaper, Il Giornale: ‘THE MALTA SCANDAL: 650,000 euros for a European passport’

Published: November 17, 2013 at 2:27am

Il Giornale_Italy

Il Giornale (Friday) has headlined with ‘THE MALTA SCANDAL: 650,000 euros for a Maltese passport’.

Here is the whole report in idiomatic translation.


The island has approved a law to sell citizenship and documents even to non-residents: the selection (of applicants) has been entrusted to a private company.

Are you a Chinese businessman ready to do anything to overcome the customs barriers of the European Union?

Are you an international terrorist determined to exploit the advantages of free movement throughout the Schengen area?

Are you a ‘narcos’ (South/Central American drug trafficker) looking for a European base?

Good, because Malta is the place for you.

Thanks to a law approved last Tuesday by the Valletta parliament, you can buy Maltese citizenship for 650,000 euros and immediately put in your pocket a European passport with which you can work, travel and traffic in all the 26 countries of the Schengen area. And if you don’t feel well, you can also exploit the health services with your European healthcare papers.

Is this a bad film? No, it’s reality, thanks to this little island of 420,000 inhabitants, and the other 27 member states of teh European Union and their 733 million citizens must pay the price.

Of course, business is business, and this is what the Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat thought when he gave the go-ahead for this particular law. To listen to him talk, you will think that the sale of Maltese citizenship will guarantee the arrival every 12 months of around 300 wealthy investors with their capital in train, for around 250 million euros a year.

Obviously, a government which is desperate for capital to revive an economy which is close to default will not stop at illicit use of those opportunities available under the law, especially when Muscat – who is already drowning in criticism by the Maltese – says that the scheme will be used only for candidates of ‘high value’ and after ‘due diligence’.

This assurance has satisfied the European Commission completely, and it has been prompt to explain, through its stainless spokesperson Michele Cercone, that “member states have full sovereignty in deciding to whom to grant nationality”. These are hallowed words if sovereignty comes with an adequate sense of responsibility. But this is not the case here.

To grasp this fully, it is enough to consider two things. The first is the absence of any requirement to reside in Malta to acquire this citizenship. A simple transfer (of funds) is sufficient to create, for any drug-trafficker or head of a terrorist cell, an innocuous European clone with (a Maltese passport but) no address or physical presence in Malta.

The second thing to consider is that there will be no police checks on candidates. The ‘due diligence’ has been delegated to a privately-owned multinational corporation, Henley & Partners, which specialises – as its own website explains – in helping individuals find “the best places in the world in terms of tax, business, the acquisition of citizenship and quality of life.”

The identification of individuals who are in bad faith or who have the wrong intentions has been delegated, in other words, to a business agency which specialises in satisfying not the requirements of security and international law, but those of private wealthy individuals in search of golden fiscal paradise (tax havens).

For Henley & Partners, this is doubly advantageous, given that they are permitted to pocket part of the fee which buyers pay to the Maltese state, and also take another fee directly from those wealthy, but opaque, buyers. Meanwhile, we unfortunate citizens of the European Union are plunged into insecurity.

The future new ‘Europeans’ who are Made in Malta will actually escape all preventive security procedures that would otherwise be guaranteed under the terms of Interpol, the security services and the branches of the police force which deal with financial crimes, like our own Guardia di Finanza.

Malta’s hunger for money (capital) has carved out another breach in Fortress Europe, making it very complex and difficult to detect terrorists, criminals and international speculators.

17 Comments Comment

  1. Newman says:

    If the government thinks it can patch up the sale of citizenship scheme by some fine-tuning or by removing the secrecy clause, it is in for a big surprise. The idiots are looking at the local polls and are ignoring the reactions of our European friends.

    All they need to do is to put themselves in the shoes of a German, French, English or Italian citizen or politician. Our fellow EU members are trying to weather one of the greatest economic storms Europe has ever seen and there is Malta selling EU ‘citizenship’ rights to rich individuals. European politicians will now be under political pressure by their electorates to take action against Malta; they also look at their local polls.

    Doesn’t the Government realize that our financial services system attracts companies from those countries to set up in Malta because of its favourable fiscal regime? If a country like Germany decides to plug the hole to prevent German companies from setting up in favourable tax regimes, we are going to lose a huge amount of revenue.

  2. The Wolf says:

    God forbid there is a terrorist attack, tracked down to individuals with a newly acquired Maltese passport.

    How can they sleep at night. Do they realise such an act would be on their account.

  3. Malti Pur says:

    Passport control for true Maltese is indeed going to be interesting again. God help us.

    And that is the least of worries. That article put my worst fears in words. God forbid a terrorist attack anywhere is traced back to one of these passports. What a mess will Malta be plunged into!

  4. vic says:

    Il Giornale x’cuc hi hdejn L-Orizzont?

  5. Alex says:

    The comments below the article by the Italian Elves section is really really embarrassing.

  6. Allo Allo says:

    Daphne, your article in The Malta Independent is brilliant. That Labour attributes to the PN the power to influence global media is ridiculous.

    Even if the PN was the most organized party in the world right now, in the global context we’re still talking of a small political organization. If Labour thinks that any political party anywhere, still less a tiny one from Malta, has such an influence on the global media, they are only insulting themselves and the Maltese government, which has at its disposal the state infrastructure, the department of information and the inside information, the details, the power of incumbency to come up with its own positive marketing strategy in the first place and rebuttal of criticism and damage limitation where necessary.

    I cannot believe that Labour is back to the old tune that ‘In-Nazzjonalisti qed jaghmlulna l-hsara barra l-pajjiz’. This is a real reminder of the Mintoff era. It’s actually worse.

    In Mintoff’s era communications weren’t as fast and as efficient as in today’s era of the internet. It’s far easier today for the international press to go to the source documents and delve in the necessary depth and detail of any issue, to obtain information from independent sources and experts.

    In any case the ‘hsara barra l-pajjiz’ argument is an infantile, schoolyard argument, typical of the MLP in the eighties and the hunters’ lobby to this very day. It is the desperate attempt to shut up opposition when someone is fighting a lost cause and can’t or won’t admit that they are wrong.

    Have the government and the Labour Party even stopped to think that they are insulting journalists and editors the world over? That this kind of comment makes them look like backward fools? They must be naïve, stupid or both.

    The Labour Party has also complained that in the past it has supported government initiatives relating to financial services and that it expected the same. While it is true that it is beneficial for the government and Opposition to collaborate on financial matters, that doesn’t mean that the Opposition should go along with an issue which is controversial and which brings the country into disrepute. Collaboration cannot be expected when one party is simply bulldozing its way without any real consultation or negotiation. Collaboration requires a degree of respect of the other parties even when such parties do not have the upper hand.

    Working with the Opposition, the government – had it been prudent and acted in good faith – would have been able to negotiate a good and proper investment scheme in a spirit of collaboration, and reached decisions on the basis of profession analysis with respect for public opinion, particularly because it did not have an electoral mandate to do any of this.

    The government has already had to remove the secrecy clause a few days after legislating. It shows there was a lot more room for consultation and listening to others’ proposals, and no scope for this gross arrogance and defiance. A proper scheme may not have brought in Eur 650K upfront for each application, but it would still bring in immediate revenue, future investment, new employment opportunities, acceptance without bringing the country into disrepute. It would have been a sustainable and long term income and investment generator. Unfortunately the government opted to, as we say in Maltese ‘ihalli l-poter jitla ghal rasu, u jara lil kulhadd dubbien.’

    Being an optimist I only hope that the Labour government learns a lesson from this one. It may have a large majority in parliament but it shouldn’t bulldoze everything and tread on everyone.

    • Rumplestiltskin says:

      You hope that this Labour government learns a lesson? Forget it. Labour never learns.

      Its diehard supporters never learn. Those who lived under Labour never learn – some of them, at least, which is why they voted for them this time round with such idiotic enthusiasm.

      The most that one can hope for is that this last group might use their brains next time round, something they failed to do this time.

    • Jozef says:

      If that’s all they can muster, let them to it. I expect to see them try to restrict the internet, comments boards, all blogs and what’s essentially the sharpest instruments of free speech.

      It’s painfully clear why Labour refused the EU, they just won’t subscribe to scrutiny, power as a calibrated tool to implement proposed policy or being simply part of this world.

      This week was rather telling in where they stand when it comes to the European project and global legitimacy. What’s utterly incredible is how removed from a European left they are.

      Actually, it’s how distant they are from any centred politics, they’re either at the xenophobic far right, into pan-continental nationalisation, which they’ll call privatisation, or unbridled savage capitalism which, according to them, is some progressive idea of economy.

      This scheme may well be something North Korea would do. When they speak of an immediate donation, their allergy and scepticism towards an open economy is betrayed, capital will remain centralised and controlled, a trickle of ‘economic measures’ theirs to decide.

      Mallia, of Lidl vouchers fame, must be thrilled.

  7. C Falzon says:

    It is particularly sad that all the papers seem to think it is about getting money because Malta is strapped for cash. They don’t even suspect it is about the governing party’s self-serving need to pay back for the favours it obtained to get into power.

  8. Jozef says:

    The perverse logic comes across crystal clear.

    Why call it ‘investment’ if all you want is the cash to do as you please with the ‘immediate donation’?

    An investment carries specific targets, mulitiple spinoffs and, by definition, is expected to grow over time.

    If anything, this scheme will never reach its full potential as much as one which carries clear conditions to invest in concrete tangible ways.

  9. Jozef says:

    Your article in today’s The Independent mentioned Mallia proposing to make it illegal to mock or criticise the act.

    I think the man’s unfit to sit in parliament. If this is what we’ve been reduced to, it’s looking bleak.

    [Daphne – Yes, I shall upload the reference later. I should have done it two weeks ago, when he said it.]

  10. SPAM! says:

    Henley & Partners should be more specific about the due diligence especially the origin of the clients’ funds. A minimum investigation should at least include the last five years’ income.

  11. ciccio says:

    I’m waiting to see how Hollywood will interpret this last piece of news from Malta.

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