Government Defends Passport Scheme From Transparency International Report

10th October 2018

MIIPA stated that it agreed with the recommendation that there should be standards of enhanced due diligence across the board, but outlined areas where it disagreed.

Government has issued a reaction to the report published today by Transparency International and Global Witness, entitled ‘European Getaway – Inside the Murky World of Golden Visas', defending Malta’s IIP programme, also known as the cash for passports scheme, from criticism. 

“In the report there are elements with which the Government, through the Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency (MIIPA), agrees and supports, and others which do not seem to be accurate or adequately researched,” the statement said.

MIIPA stated that it agreed with the recommendation that there should be standards of enhanced due diligence across the board. “Malta has been advocating for more cooperation between jurisdictions in the aspect of due diligence and background checks, and has also taken the lead through the organisation of a conference focused on due diligence for the RCBI industry held in May 2018. The Agency also welcomes the recommendation to broaden anti-money laundering requirements including on approved agents. MIIPA is also in favour of establishing mechanisms for the coordination of information sharing between member states concerning rejected applicants.”

“It is important to highlight that most of the recommendations are already in place for the Malta programme, and these suggestions seem to have been taken from the IIP and recommendations that Malta has been making in dedicated fora.”

However, it objected to the mention of Arkady Volozh, Boris Mints and Alexander Nesis, who have acquired Maltese passports and were included in the so-called ‘Kremlin list’. Transparency International said that the Kremlin list featured “Russia’s wealthiest businesspersons who are believed to be close to Russia President Vladimir Putin and who could have been enriched through corruption.”

“The list has been widely regarded as being too similar to a Russian Forbes list, and as such was simply a list of rich Russian individuals which in itself does not imply any wrongdoing,” MIIPA said. “Malta has the highest rejection rate of all programmes, at around 25 per cent compared to only 10 per cent of other jurisdictions, and this unfortunately seems to have gone unnoticed in the report by TI and GW.”

MIIPA also said that the report is wrong in the residence aspect. It also added that allegations that government officials outside the Agency received kickbacks in order to facilitate the approval of IIP applications was under a magisterial inquiry and the Agency will take any necessary actions once this magisterial inquiry is concluded.

“The experience of our nation since launching the IIP has been largely a positive one. The programme has generated an interest in our country from all across the globe. Investor interest is at an all-time high, and ideas of possible mutually beneficial partnerships are flourishing. One of the factors contributing to Malta’s success is that the venture is not profit-driven, but to attract rare talent that will further benefit the country’s economy,” MIIPA concluded.

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