In a press statement published this afternoon the Government refers to comments made regarding the Malta Individual Investor Programme (MIIP) by a law firm, and states that the Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency (MIIPA) has, with immediate effect, suspended the agent licenses of the said firm given the dissemination of misleading information. The firm will now be able to resort to a due process.
The press release continues that claims that “eyes are closed” at any stage of the MIIP process are completely unfounded.
The Government reiterates that the Malta Individual Investor Programme is designed in a way wherein political office holders cannot interfere with applications. The rigorous system has a full transparent audit trail, which is thoroughly scrutinised by the independent MIIP Regulator. The MIIPA runs a 4-tier due diligence on each and every applicant and their dependants, irrespective of data submitted by the agent.
The MIIPA then presents a list of files with recommendations for rejection and/or approval to the responsible Minister. The recommendations are solely based on the due diligence reports and findings.
The press statement continues to claim that any impression that any agent enjoys a special treatment is completely misleading. The said firm claimed to having a 100% approval rate. Checks in this regard have shown that the said firm in fact had 19% of its applications refused.
The MIIPA has asked the IIP Regulator to review into all the files submitted by the said agent and has put all pending applications on hold.
As to claims regarding Minister Owen Bonnici that he was an associate of the said law firm, it should be pointed out that this is false since the minister was never in employment or an associate of the firm.
Likewise, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli have no relationship whatsoever with the firm.
The statement further continues that any reference to Parliamentary Secretary Farrugia Portelli’s acquaintance with a partner of the firm dates back to 32 years ago when the Parliamentary Secretary, then 10 years old, used the same primary school transport, and was in the same class with a student who is today a partner of the firm.
The same applies to any reference made to Prime Minister, who attended the same school and shared school transport with the person interviewed and members of his family.
It must be highlighted that, last month, French journalists requested an interview with Maltese government officials claiming that a partner in a law firm had made claims of association with members of government.
Through the press statement it transpires that an interview was granted with Parliamentary Secretary Farrugia Portelli. During the 16-minute interview, 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.
The documentary also attempts to suggest inappropriate conduct by the Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Businesses. 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.
In so far as any suggestion of political influence relating to a beach concession at St George’s Bay, such is totally unfounded since the Ministry for Tourism does not award land concessions. The existing concession was awarded by a previous administration.
The press statement concludes that the Government welcomes any investigations by Commissioner for Standards in Public Life Dr George Hyzler on any of these claims.