Tonio Fenech was offerred consultancy role with Henley & Partners

Former finance minister turned down recruitment offer when Henley became concessionaire for IIP

Tonio Fenech's testimonial in Henley's Global Residence Handbook
Tonio Fenech's testimonial in Henley's Global Residence Handbook

Just as the controversial IIP citizenship scheme hit the headlines in October, Nationalist MP Tonio Fenech turned down a consultant's role at Henley & Partners, the company appointed as the Individual Investor Programme's exclusive concessionaire.

Fenech confirmed that after the March 2013 election, he was locked in talks with Henley over a consultancy role for a number of overseas projects.

"Shortly after my term in office came to an end, I was offered the opportunity to participate in a number of projects Henley run outside Malta, in my capacity as an independent consultant," Fenech said.

But talks were terminated at a preliminary stage, once he became aware of Henley's involvement in the controversial citizenship scheme. d"Upon learning that Henley & Partners were in talks with government over the citizenship scheme, I did not pursue it because of the evident conflict of interest I would have had," Fenech said.

Government insiders told MaltaToday they blamed Fenech for the failed talks with the Opposition on the IIP, saying they believed he kept PN leader Simon Busuttil in the dark over the initial negotiations between Henley and government over the IIP.

Fenech has denied this, saying he never discussed the IIP with the company before learning that Henley had been appointed as the Labour government's concessionaires. It was then that he took a step back to avoid having conflict of interest.

The PN were approached by home affairs minister Manuel Mallia to discuss the IIP in June, but then only informed of the IIP's details on 5 October when junior minister Owen Bonnici emailed the draft law to the opposition.   

"After we publicly said that we would not agree with the proposal unless it is linked to investment, Henley's Chris Kalin called me and asked why the opposition was against the scheme. Since I had links with Henley, they must have believed the opposition would be on board."

Fenech then informed the party, and met Henley's representatives together with fellow MPs Mario de Marco, Jason Azzopardi and Kristy Debono.

"In this meeting, in which the PN raised its objections, Henley made it clear that they had strongly advised government to link the programme to investment, but that the government would have none of it, citing urgency as the reason why the scheme was not linked to long-term investment and residency," Fenech said.

Fenech said that in a subsequent PN parliamentary group meeting, it was agreed to oppose the IIP unless it was linked to investment. But when in a second meeting with Henley, during which Owen Bonnici, the investment option was not accepted, "the PN was left no option but to oppose the scheme," Fenech said.

It was Prime Minister Joseph Muscat who later revealed that Fenech had penned a testimonial for Henley in their Global Residence Handbook.  "One firm which we have had the pleasure of working with is Henley & Partners. Internationally recognized as the firm of choice for residence and citizenship planning, we sought their advice for the reform of our residence schemes," Fenech's testimonial read.

Henley had been drafted by the previous administration on the new High Net Worth Individuals scheme that replaced the Permanent Residency Scheme, before being replaced again by the Global Residence Scheme under the Labour administration.

Fenech insisted that while he had every right to discuss professional matters with Henley, he never held back from criticising the company's apparent conflict of interest arising from its monopoly as the IIP's exclusive concessionaire. "I never opposed Henley's involvement. I oppose the scheme because it is clear that government is after making a quick buck and I also criticised Henley's conflict of interest publicly. I turned down the opportunity to offer my services to Henley to make sure I had no conflict of interest myself."

Henley has since lost its exclusivity, now becoming one of the IIP's individual concessionaires, together with other audit firms like PWC and Deloitte.

Apart from promoting the scheme to prospective applicants and passing on the application to Identity Malta, which will oversee the IIP, Henley will also be involved in the initial stages of the screening process.

The government recently upped the price to become a Maltese citizen through the IIP, by adding a €350,000 property acquisition and €150,000 government stock purchase to the €650,000 donation.

@Karl Consiglio. Pity the guru did not help much in avoiding the PN's historical electoral defeat.
Fejn huma 'il-principji'tax- shadow ministers ta Simon Busutill? Jew dawn jitbidlu skond it-tune tal-Pied Piper? Sa fejn naf jien 'principju' hu dejjem 'principju'. Jista jispjegalna Tonio Fenech , meta, bhal San Pawl fit-triqtu lejn Damasku- ra id-dawl ta Simon? L-istrategija ta Tonio hada minn ktieb li jismu: 'Malta Investment Scheme 360 degrees?'
Can't blame them he's the guru.
Fedelis jismu dan!! Sensar u arloggi kif ukoll titjira b'xejn biex jara l-Arsenal , miskin kemm hasibna fidili ,u xhemm izjed li ghad johrog, tad dahq il gustizzja hawn Malta , x'imkien iehor dan l-anqas hu membru tal parlament f'xi pajjiz tal EU.Il hmerijiet u l-korruzzjoni li saret trid issir gustizzja ghax ahna qedin il poplu kollu nhallsu €208miljuni f'imghax kull sena bil kagun ta dawm il manigoldi.
I do wonder what effect the potential investment of 1,800 new investors each having to invest €150,000 in Malta Government Stock will have on the traditional small investor who supports this market, when every time Government stock is issued it is heavily oversubscribed. Will we be crowded out from the one source we have for our retirement saving?