EuropePolicy Updates

Bipartisan Consensus on Naming of Malta IIP Citizens Despite Regulator’s Concerns

Although generally not accustomed to unanimity, both Malta’s governing party – Labour – and the opposition – the Nationalist Party – agree that the government should continue its practice of publishing the names of new citizens in its annual Gazette, despite agents’ recommendations to the contrary and the program regulator’s apprehensions about the policy, reports TVM.

As part of the fifth annual report on the Malta Individual Investor Programme, Regulator Carmel L. De Gabriele raised concerns about the predicaments related to data protection and the privacy of applicants.

“According to those interviewed, the main reasons why applicants would be adverse to the publication of their names had nothing to do with allegedly having something to hide but was due to their wish to have their privacy respected and due to their fear of retaliation if their names were spotted by their detractors,” wrote De Gabriele.

One agent, he said, had suggested that, in order to conform to the GDPR, the Malta Individual Investor Porgramme Agency (MIIPA) should seek the consent of applicants for such naming a priori.

Read also: CIP Critics in European Commission “Didn’t Even Bother” to Consult Malta IIP Regulator

Not reconsidering naming policy

Defending the continuation of the policy, Labour’s Parliamentary Secretary, Julia Farrugia Portelli, said “We felt that the names should be published, that was the decision we took and which we still believe in, and we will continue to adhere to the decision taken.”

Echoing the views of the Parliamentary Secretary, Nationalist MP Karol Aquilina said, “we are insisting that these names should be public for there to be effective scrutiny of people who are buying Maltese citizenship.”

Stephanie Bonello, a lawyer practicing in the MIIP-field, expressed disappointment with the decision.

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“Once your name is published you are subject to scrutiny not only by the media but potentially even by your competitors. Many applicants wish their privacy to be protected in this way,” she said.

Read also: Malta IIP Passes €1bn in Revenue, Has Turned Down €250m Due to High Rejection Rates

Applicants turned down in Malta accepted elsewhere

Speaking on the topic of due diligence standards, Jonathan Cardona, CEO of MIIPA, said Malta had been urging the European Commission to enforce a common standard for applicant vetting across EU programs.

“We are pushing for this because we had four applicants whose application we turned down, who were then accepted by another country. So what we are saying is why did they not pass through our vetting process but passed through that of another country so easily? In other words, we ourselves are lobbying the EC to share the information which we would have collected,” he commented.

Cyprus, another EU country with a citizenship by investment program, has steadfastly refused to name applicants to its program. Following a leak of a CIP-participant list of names, which the media subsequently published, the Cypriot Commissioner for Data Protection ordered the original media report deleted and warned that she would respond to any further publication of the list by exercising her “authority provided by the law against media outlets that do so”.

Read also: Malta Rejects 1 in 4 Applications for Citizenship by Investment

Christian Henrik Nesheim AdministratorKeymaster

Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 16 years in the United States, China, Spain, and Portugal.

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