Passport agents and Paceville boss boast of ministerial friendships in French TV reveal

Ministers refuse suggestions of trading in influence after being name-dropped by Paceville entrepreneur Luke Chetcuti and passport agents

It’s good to have a wife with similar friends.”
It’s good to have a wife with similar friends.”

One of Malta’s more successful agents of the Individual Investor Programme has been secretly recorded by a French TV news programme, boasting of his friendly relations with both the prime minister and the parliamentary secretary for citizenship, in a pitch to sell Maltese passports to potential African clients.

The comments were made to an M6 journalist posing as a representative of African clients seeking a Maltese passport, sold under the IIP for some €1.15 million in cash, property and government stocks.

The firm’s representatives, whose faces are blurred in the episode of Enquête Exclusive which aired on Sunday 22 September, are carefree in explaining of their excellent relations with members of the Maltese government.

“The [former] minister Owen Bonnici was a lawyer here,” says one of the representatives of the Chetcuti Cauchi firm, as a company logo later reveals the identity of the company.

“Julia Farrugia, the parliamentary secretary in charge of the programme, is a childhood friend of my wife. It’s good to have a wife with similar friends,” the lawyer says jovially.

“It’s a small island… I was at school with the prime minister – my father drove us to school and we would be invited to each other’s parties. We understand each other.”

Later, when the conversation turns to a problematic dossier – a client who may have criminal precedents – the Chetcuti Cauchi representative tells the journalist:

“I tell the minister: ‘with more information, you will have a more complete view of the dossier’, and indeed, they do not need to give any reasons for the rejection of the dossier, but they can close an eye… and later, I can give them new information that would benefit the client.”

All the ministers concerned have declared to the programme’s journalists that they have never intervened in any dossier, while the lawyer concerned has refused accusations of trading in influence.

Paceville entrepreneur Luke Chetcuti
Paceville entrepreneur Luke Chetcuti

In another segment of the programme, the son of the late Paceville entrepreneur Hugo Chetcuti, Luke, is filmed speaking to a hotel manager where he complains about the a competitor’s beach concession on St George’s Beach.

“I’m not joking,” Chetcuti says in close conversation while being filmed discreetly, ostensibly being annoyed at the competitor’s establishments on the beach.

“Last week I was having dinner with Chris, the minister for the economy,” Chetcuti is heard saying. “And he texted the tourism minister saying: we must help the Chetcuti family. They have always helped us. The other minister replied saying the beach was quite small but he would see what he would do, if it could be enlarged.”

Contacted by the programme, Chetcuti said that what had been filmed had been taken out of context. Both Cardona and Mizzi have refused accusations of trading in influence.

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