Two days ago, Alex Muscat, Malta’s citizenship czar, insisted his country’s MEIN Policy, which offers naturalization to investors following a residence period, would not need to exclude Russians as part of the US, EU, UK, and Canada sanctions package, which sought to “limit the sale of citizenship – so called golden passports” to Russians. The resolution would not apply in Malta’s case, indicated Muscat, because the MEIN policy was not a “golden passport”.
“The due diligence that we do here is found nowhere in the world. We train other countries on how to carry out due diligence. We invest a lot in due diligence and we will continue to do so. We are being careful on every investment coming to Malta but let’s not have a blanket statement that all Russians are bad people,” Muscat said on Monday.
Today, however, the Parliamentary Secretariat for Citizenship and Communities has issued a statement announcing it has suspended the processing of applications for both the MEIN policy and the country’s MPRP, a golden visa, until further notice.
Emphasizing that, upon a review, the Community Malta, Identity Malta, and Residency Malta agencies could confirm that no beneficiaries of residency or citizenship by investment in Malta, either approved or in processing, were mentioned in the EU’s sanctions list.
No sanctioned individuals have citizenship or residency in Malta
The suspension of application processing for Russian and Belarusian investors, the agencies indicated, was unrelated to sanctions and, rather, occasioned by an inability to carry out effective background checks in the pertinent countries at the moment:
“As a result of recent developments, the existent due diligence checks cannot be carried out effectively in the current scenario. Consequently, Community Malta Agency and Residency Malta Agency have suspended, until further notice, the processing of applications for the above-mentioned statuses from nationals of the Russian Federation and Belarus.”
As to what would happen to Russian and Belarusian nationals with extant statuses in Malta, the agencies stated the following:
“Notwithstanding the fact that no beneficiaries of any citizenship or residence status are on the EU Sanctions List, renewals of status of beneficiaries will be processed on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the existing standard procedures. These entail fresh compliance checks to ensure beneficiaries continue to remain eligible.”
Malta is the third European country to suspend Russian applicants from its investment migration programs. Earlier this week, both Portugal and Greece barred Russians from participation in their respective golden visa programs.
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.