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Identity Malta refusing to publish agency stats on passport sales

Identity Malta is refusing to give MaltaToday a breakdown of accredited agencies that have successfully sold the Individual Investor Programme, leading to the filing of complaints with IIP regulator.

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
6 September 2017, 8:00am
Identity Malta passport
Identity Malta passport
The agency responsible for the sale of Maltese citizenship is refusing to give MaltaToday a breakdown of all the accredited agencies that had successfully sold the Individual Investor Programme.

Identity Malta turned down MaltaToday’s freedom of information request for a list of all the firms whose applications for citizenship were either accepted or turned down.

Malta’s IIP has 154 agents promoting and selling citizenship to the global elite for €650,000 a passport. Applicants must also commit to acquire a property worth €350,000 or rent an apartment for five years for at least €16,000 per annum, and invest €150,000 in government stocks.

No data however is publicly available about which of these agencies were successful at promoting their clients, who must pass through a due diligence exercise before being finally accepted as citizens by Identity Malta.

MaltaToday has filed a complaint with both the IIP regulator, as well as the Information and Data Protection Commissioner, to review the FOI request.

In its refusal, Identity Malta insisted that the information requested was confidential commercial information “in view of the reasonably predictable, substantially adverse effects on the financial and property interests of the Government and… insofar as the information requested could reasonably be expected to have a substantial adverse effect on the proper and efficient conduct of the operations of a public authority and the public interest that is served by non-disclosure outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

The regulator for the IIP, an independent officer who reviews annual data on the sale of citizenships, already publishes information on how many successful applications take place, as well as the geographical distribution of the applications.

In 2016, a MaltaToday story on the residential properties of successful IIP citizens not being worth €350,000, led to the creation of a compliance unit at Identity Malta to investigate potential abuses.

In an investigation carried out by the regulator of the IIP, it turned out that in the 13 cases selected by MaltaToday, 11 had leased their premises and in six of these cases the lease value was “nearly equal to the threshold” save for a €200 difference.

The regulator said this statistic implied the figure had been rounded upwards so that the rental would be in line with the IIP rules, or that the applicants had specifically selected a property that did not significantly exceed the minimum €16,000 threshold.

Identity Malta started to request accredited agents to provide a qualified architect’s declaration to confirm the values of the properties being leased and purchased; and has set up a Compliance Unit tasked with monitoring and investigating potential abuses.

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.