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Russian nationals dominate list of global rich who are now ‘Maltese’

Billionaires, magnates, politicians and a Saudi prince... the new ‘Maltese’ who buy themselves a €650,000 passport may never step foot in Malta but are buying ease-of-movement across the world

yannick_pace
Yannick Pace
9 January 2018, 8:14am
Last week the government published the full list of people who were granted Maltese citizenship during 2016, including those who had purchased their citizenship through the Individual Investor Programme (IIP).

Under the IIP, high-net worth individuals can obtain Maltese, and therefore EU citizenship, against a fee of €650,000, as well as €150,000 in government bonds and a €350,000 investment in property. A physical presence is not required for applicants to prove residency.

The scheme has been controversial since its inception, and while Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has insisted that IIP would allow Malta to attract talent towards its shores, opponents have argued that the government is effectively prostituting the country for a measly sum, insisting citizenship should not be for sale.

The programme was also at the centre of allegations last year that the Prime Minister’s chief-of-staff Keith Schembri, and Nexia BT owner Brian Tonna were involved in the laundering of money coming from kickbacks from applicants.

Doubt has also been cast on the individuals being granted citizenship, despite the government’s reassurances that the strictest of due diligence processes is carried out before applicants are approved.

 

Why do people buy passports?

For some, acquiring a passport is simply a status symbol like cars or summer-houses. Others from countries with restrictive passports might choose to do so to facilitate their travels around the world, or as insurance in the eventuality of sanctions, natural disasters or war.

According to a 2015 IMF report on Economic Citizenship Programmes, “high net-worth individuals consider citizenship/residency as a means to improving international mobility, tax planning, and family security while also seeking investment opportunities”.

 

Who’s on the list?

The list includes over 2,000 names, of which around half are relatively common Maltese names and therefore likely to belong to naturalised citizens. From the remaining list of names looked into by MaltaToday – a relatively small sample when considering the total number of names on the list – it emerged that a majority are from Russia and other Eastern European countries.  The list also includes a high proportion of people from Gulf states, Middle-Eastern and African countries.

These are some of the more notable names that appear in the list. There is no implication of any wrongdoing on the part of the applicants.

 

Faisal Alibrahim – Saudi Arabian strategy, investment and business development advisor. According to his LinkedIn profile he is currently an advisor to Saudi Royal Court, the Saudi ministry of Economy and Planning, and a former advisor to Uber. He has held a number of roles in Saudi Aramco believed to be the most valuable company in the world, with $2 trillion to $10 trillion dollar value estimation.

Faisal Alibrahim, Saudi Arabian investment advisor
Faisal Alibrahim, Saudi Arabian investment advisor
 

Gilbert Teodoro – Former secretary of the national defence of the Republic of the Philippines, a post he held between 2007 and 2009. Having previously been a member of the house of representatives, Teodoro ran for the president in the 2010 elections, losing to Noynoy Aquino.   

Following his time in politics he was appointed an independent director of Banco de Oro, one of the Philippines’ largest banks and was named chairman of the Sagittarius Mines Incorporated in August 2015.

In June 2016 he declined an offer by Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte for him to return to his post as Secretary of National Defence.

Gilbert Teodoro, Former secretary of national defence of the Philippines
Gilbert Teodoro, Former secretary of national defence of the Philippines
 

Leonid Viktoryvich Korotkov – He is a member of Russia’s Communist Party and is a former governor of Amur Oblast in Siberia in Russia. He was nominated to a second term by Russian President Valdimir Putin but was sacked, again by Putin, when he was accused of abuse of power.

In 2010, Kortkov is reported to have been acquitted of the charges of rising electricity tariffs to illegally fund a local football team, buying cars at inflated prices as well as payment for shares in a company that were never transferred to his government.

Leonid Korotkov, Former governor of Amur Oblast in Siberia
Leonid Korotkov, Former governor of Amur Oblast in Siberia
 

Dmitry Vladimirovich Semenikhin – He is a 21-year-old Russian writer and businessman. He is the author of five science-fiction novels and was a regular contributor to the publication Business Insider.

He is the founder of Yacht Harbour media holding, which generated an estimated $4.4 million in revenue in 2016. Yacht Harbour is based in Monaco and Moscow and runs databases and online news portals in the yachting sector.

Dmitry Semenikhin, Russian writer and businessman
Dmitry Semenikhin, Russian writer and businessman
 

Alexey Alexandrovich Marey – Was the CEO of Alfa Bank Russia, the country’s largest private bank by assets. According to a Reuters report published in November of this year, the bank announced in a statement that Marey had left his post “as his family is moving to another location”.

 

Sheikh Ibrahim Waleed Alibrahim - Saudi founder of the Middle East Broadcasting Company (MBC). He was recently arrested as part of a corruption probe by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Ibrahim Waleed Alibrahim, Saudi founder of MBC channel
Ibrahim Waleed Alibrahim, Saudi founder of MBC channel
 

Dragan Solak – He is the executive chairman of the United Media Group – one of the largest telecommunications groups in the Balkans. According to European Investigative Collaborations partner Nacional – tax could have been avoided on the payment of €6.7 million of TV rights by Balkan television stations, which ended up in Malta, Cyprus and Liechtenstein.

Dragan Solak, Serbian media magnate
Dragan Solak, Serbian media magnate
 

Alexander Iosifovich Rubanov – Chairman of the management board at TNS energo Rostov-on-Don PJSC which is an 0.17% shareholder in TNS Energo LLC group, which is involved in the generation and distribution of power and electric energy. The Government of Russia owns 33.48% of the shares.

 

Roman Evgenievich Trushev – chairman of Petroneft, an oil and gas exploration and production company based in Russia.

 

Elena and Anna Rybolovleva – Former wife and daughter of AS Monaco owner Dmitry Rybolovlev. In May 2014, a Swiss court ordered him to pay over $4.5 billion to Elena in a divorce settlement which was later reduced to $580 million on appeal.

 

Gennady Yurievich Brovchuk – The name comes up in the ICIJ’s Offshore Leaks database, where Brovchuk is listed as having been a shareholder in the company Nord Avia Group Ltd, which was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands and struck off the register in October 2012.

 

Matthys Du Toit – Du Toit is a South Africa national who is the chairman of KWV Holdings, which sells wine, brandy and other spirits in South Africa. He is also a director at an investment holding company called PSG Group Limited, and a non-executive director of Pioneer Food Group Limited.

 

Alexander Pavlovich Grachev – He is a former competitive ice dancer whose best claim to fame was winning the 2004 World Junior championship with Elena Romanovkaya.

 

Alexey De-Monderik - Co-founder of major cybersecurity and anti-virus provider firm Kaspersky Lab, which is headquartered in Moscow. Kaspersky Lab ranks fourth in the global ranking of antivirus vendors by revenue.

Alexey De Monderik, Co-founder Kaspersky Lab
Alexey De Monderik, Co-founder Kaspersky Lab
 

Andrey Petrovich Gomon – Non-executive director at Globaltrans Investment Plc, director of Joint-Stock Company New forwarding Company, and director at OOO BaltTransServis. All three are Russian transportation and logistics companies. Gomon also held various roles within Transoil LLC, one of the largest oil transportation companies in Russia.

 

Gurinder Jit Singh - Founder and Chairman of the GJ GROUP which operates in the hospitality sector in New Dehli, India.

 

Bimal Kantaria – Director of Elgon Kenya, a company dealing in agricultural products including fertilizers, seeds, irrigation systems and agro-chemicals.

 

Amar Kantaria – The executive director of Prime Bank Limited. He also serves as Director of Kenya Community Development Fund and Treasurer of the Rotary Club Nairobi. He has also been the director of Tausi Assurance Company Limited since July 2010.

Amar Kantaria, Executive Director Prime Bank
Amar Kantaria, Executive Director Prime Bank
 

Igor Vyacheslavovich Khudokormov – According to Panama Papers leaks, Khudokormov was a shareholder in Magna Investments, which was registered in Samoa. The company was struck off the register in February 2016. He was also a shareholder in BVI company Quarant Limited, which was also stuck off the register in October 2016. He is the chairman of Prodimex Trading House, a Russian agricultural producer of sugar.

 

Alexey Kirienko – Russian CEO of Exante, an investment brokerage firm based in Malta which was at the centre of fraud accusations in the United States. The company has since been cleared of all charges.

Alexey Kirienko, CEO Exante
Alexey Kirienko, CEO Exante
 

Leonid Levitin – Named in the Panama Papers as a shareholder of Godfrey Business Development Limited, a BVI company which was established in 2013 and is still active.

 

Dmitry Yuryevich Lipyavko – Founder of Roza-Mira OOO which is a wholesale distributor of petroleum and petroleum products. The company markets diesel, gasoline, heating oil and other petroleum products through retailers throughout the Russian Federation. He is also a director at Blueline Project and a member of the board of directors of GEOTECH holding, CJSC and IG Seismic Services Ltd.

 

Anatoly Igorevich Loginov – Loginov is the founder, CEO, president and chairman of BPC AG. He holds an MSc in cybernetics and a PhD in computer science. BPC AG provides open-system e-payment solutions for the global financial industry.

 

Alexander Mechatin – Russian CEO of Beluga Group, Russia’s largest private spirits company.

 

Andrei Melnikov - CEO and director of Global Cobalt Corporation. He is a mining executive with background in engineering and experience in the mining industry. Melnikov is also a director of engineering of uranium mining company, Uranium One Holding N.V.

 

Clyde Stefan Rossouw – South African portfolio manager at asset management firm Investec Asset Management.

 

yannick_pace
Yannick joined MaltaToday as a journalist in 2016. His main areas of interest are politics...