Malta at Odds over Passport Scheme

Malta’s citizenship by investment scheme, which includes the selling of its passport to high net worth individuals has been an immense contributor for the local economy.  Over six years, Malta’s passport scheme generated one and a half billion Euro.

This programme, synonymous with the Labour party has been scrutinised during its initial stages and continues to be so today.

It has been reported that Malta is sparing no effort in defending this controversial scheme and is willing to take the case to the European Court of Justice.

Discussing Malta’s position in this regard, Parliamentary Secretary Alex Muscat stated that the country would stand strong against the proceedings launched by the European Commission.

As new legislation comes to the fore, the names of those who lose their Maltese citizenship will be made public, together with those that manage to acquire it. At this moment in time, it is not yet established how many people lost their citizenship, but two have already, whilst another two are being investigated. Maltese citizenship may also be lost if it is achieved through a marriage of convenience.

A couple of weeks ago, the European Commission contested the passport schemes of both Malta and Cyprus, where they were deemed unlawful. The Government will need to reply to a letter sent by the European Commission and has until mid-December to do so.

The new scheme comes with a few changes. Applicants who invest seven hundred and fifty thousand Euro may apply for citizenship after one year of residency. Those applicants that invest six hundred thousand Euro, may apply for citizenship following three years of residency.

The Parliamentary Secretary stated that the authorities will ensure applicants will be living in Malta for a number of weeks. With that said, there is no minimum number of days which has been established.

These applicants will need to go through an eligibility test and would have to invest in property which costs in the range of seven hundred thousand Euro. Those who do not pass the test will not be allowed to apply again. The Parliamentary Secretary stated that Malta holds a high rate of non-approvals, with one in every four not being granted approval for citizenship.

Mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that applicants are monitored for five years following the granting of citizenship. The citizenship programme will be regulated by a new agency called Community Malta.

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