Government challenged in court over choice of concessionaire for citizenship sale

Financial advisory company claims that call for an expression of interest was abusive and illegal

Nationalist MP Francis Zammit Dimech's law firm has represented Arton Capital ever since they bid for the citizenship sale concessionaire back in August.
Nationalist MP Francis Zammit Dimech's law firm has represented Arton Capital ever since they bid for the citizenship sale concessionaire back in August.

A financial advisory firm that had tendered to be the government's concessionaire on its citizenship sale programme - the Individual Investor Programme (IIP) - has filed a judicial protest.

Arton Capital had appealed a decision by the ministry for home affairs and national security to take on global citizenship advisory firm Henley. The decision was confirmed by a board of appeal chaired by Malta Industrial Parks deputy chairman Joshua Zammit, Reno Borg (nominated by the Labour Party as a member on the Broadcasting Authority), and Adrian Said.

Arton claimed that Henley had already been associated with the former administration, in giving consultation to the government on a similar scheme or a permanent residence programme. Arton's chief executive officer Armand Arton also claimed that Henley's CEO Eric Major was aware of Arton's participation in the call for expressions, alleging a "special relationship between Major and the government of Malta."

But Major told the appeals board that Henley had never been involved in advising the government on citizenship-by-investment, and instead involved in the Maltese residence schemes of the last 10 years.

Arton Capital was represented in the tender by counsel Tanya Camilleri, of FZD Advocates, whose senior partner is Nationalist MP Francis Zammit Dimech. Their judicial protest was signed by Therese Commodini Cachia, currently running for the European elections on the PN ticket. The protest was filed against home affairs minister Manuel Mallia, permanent secretary Kevin Mahoney, Joshua Zammit and Reno Borg.

Arton is claiming the international call for expressions of interest and the adjudication of bids for the drafting of the IIP breached public service commission procedures, was ultra vires, abusive and against the law.

The programme allows the concessionaire to market Maltese citizenship to eligible investors, who must pay €650,000 for a passport.

Arton claims the evaluation committee failed to follow the principles of natural justice, saying the bidder had a conflict of interest, jeopardising the independence of the committee itself. Furthermore, the committee's decision was never explained.

More in National
Ghal ZD ma jezistuz kunflitti ta nteress jekk meta kienu fil gvern kien l-avukat ta dawn.
We have elected a new government because we have lost trust in the way GonziPN ran the administration. The less we see of GonziPN people-Zammit Dimech and others the better!
mela qomt mirraqda.
Paul Sammut
Is this dr zammit dimech the same person whose party is criticising the scheme?
good one fufa!
Jien hsibtu li kien ha xi nghasa dan Dr Zammit Dimech. Imma donnu jrid jissemma wkoll bhal shabu l-avukati. Hekk inkunu nafu li qed iservu. Reklam tajjeb. Dawn tal-PN minn dejjem kienu innovattivi f'hidmiethom.

Get access to the real stories first with the digital edition