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MALTATODAY 4 October 2020

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7 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 4 OCTOBER 2020 NEWS ALWAYS USE A MASK THAT COVERS NOSE, MOUTH AND CHIN THESE FACE COVERINGS DO NOT OFFER SUFFICIENT PROTECTION C M Y CM MY CY CMY K COVID19 - Advert Eng & Mlt - 2020 (4th Oct) final.pdf 1 02/10/2020 08:21:15 NICOLE MEILAK MALTA'S Individual Investor Programme has lost some 73 of its agents out of a list of 200 firms and approved agents sell- ing citizenship to the ultra-rich. Of those 73, only four practi- tioners have had their license outright suspended by the IIP agency: these include two licenc- es held by the legal firm Chetcuti Cauchi, a licence held by former Labour Party treasurer and audi- tor Joe Sammut on behalf of Mi- callef Stafrace & Sammut, and more recently the licence held by Karl Cini on behalf of BT In- ternational, part of the Nexia BT group. Chetcuti Cauchi Advisors, re- portedly one of the most suc- cessful of agents and the first to be granted authorisation to sell Maltese citizenship, had their licences suspended over footage from a French news reveal that claimed to show the company's representatives boasting of in- fluence with the Prime Minister and the parliamentary secretary for citizenship. Since then, the raw footage ob- tained by Chetcuti Cauchi in a French court case has revealed that the editing of the broadcast was a misleading picture of the actual conversation. On the other hand, Joe Sam- mut saw his licence revoked af- ter he was arraigned on charges relating to money laundering, fraud, misappropriation, for- gery and non-observance of due diligence after aiding Libyan nationals to obtain a residency permit through the creation of fake companies. This put Malta's cash-for-passports programme in the spotlight at the European level, with MEPs demanding an investigation into the IIP over security concerns. More recently, BT Internation- al had their license suspended in the wake of a police inves- tigation into parent company Nexia BT, which fell victim to a wide-ranging freezing order when lead partner Brian Tonna was arrested over allegations of a kickback to Keith Schembri on the sale of citizenship. Apart from these high-level cases, an overwhelming major- ity of licences were dropped ei- ther due to missing administra- tive information or because the practitioner lost interest. Lawyer George Hyzler gave up his IIP li- cence following his appointment as Standards Commissioner, and Lydia Abela, wife of Robert Abe- la, dropped her licence after her husband was appointed Prime Minister last January. Last July, the government an- nounced that Malta's cash for passports programme will soon be replaced by a new residency scheme with higher investment requirements and a mandatory €10,000 donation to a registered philanthropic organisation. Under the new scheme, a for- eigner looking to buy Maltese citizenship would only be able to apply one year after first ob- taining a residency permit. Ap- plicants will have to fulfil a one- year residency period before filing for citizenship. But the European Commission had asked the Maltese govern- ment asking for the IIP to be phased out over money-launder- ing and corruption risks; but the Maltese government is still keen on retaining the programme due to the source of revenue it pro- vides. Golden passport loses 73 agents since 2013

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