‘Law firm had 19% of applications refused, not 100% success rate’ – government

Malta cityscape - Maltese and EU flag fly outside the Auberge de Castille, Valletta, Malta

The Malta Individual Investor Programme quoted in French TV programme ‘Enquête Exclusive,’ had 19% of its applications refused rather than the 100% success rate it claimed, the government has said.

The firm mentioned in the programme did not receive special treatment ‘is completely misleading,’ it adds.

This is just one of the allegations appearing in the French investigative programme aired last night, that the government has said it ‘firmly refutes.’

In the hours following news of the programme’s broadcast in Malta, the firm Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates had its licence to advise on the Individual Investor Programme, suspended.

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They reassure the public that the MIIP process is properly regulated by the MIIPA which, ‘runs a 4-tier due diligence on each and every applicant and their dependants, irrespective of data submitted by the agent.’

In addition to refuting the claims about IIP, the statement also denies connection between Ministers and the law firm.

On the Prime Minister and Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli, the government states that neither had ‘no relationship whatsoever with the firm’

Both the PM and the PS are understood to have attended the same school and used the same public transport. That is as far as their relationship with a partner in the firm goes, the statement declares.

Going further, they say that Farrugia Portelli did grant an interview with the French journalists to discuss the connection.

‘The Parliamentary Secretary was not asked any question about this allegation, when journalists had all the opportunity to pose such a question, which was the reason why they asked for the interview.’

On the Justice Minister Owen Bonnici, the government say that it was ‘false’ that the Minister had ever worked at the law firm in question.

The government also criticises the report’s assessment of the Economy Minister Chris Cardona’s conduct.

‘The Ministry has always been adamant about its mission statement, in its legislative, administrative and coordinating role to further and uphold a forward-looking Maltese economy that ensures stability and growth. In his role as the Minister for the Economy, Minister Cardona has countless meetings with potential investors, established enterprises, and all relevant stakeholders. Due process is always followed in all cases.’

On Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, the statement says that the Minister has no say over the awarding of land concessions or political influence over them. It calls the claims in the report about the beach concession at St George’s Bay, ‘totally unfounded’.