Ten On The Weekend

“Hundreds of Thousands” Have a Claim to Maltese Citizenship by Descent”: 10 On The Weekend With Dr. Antoine Saliba-Haig

10 On The Weekend is a weekly (-ish) feature in IMI, the concept of which is simple: Each time, we ask the same ten questions of a different IMI Pro, letting readers get to know the interviewee on a more personal and informal level than they might during the ordinary course of business.

Our guest this week is Dr. Antoine Saliba-Haig, Senior Lawyer at Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates.

How do you spend your weekends?

My weekends are primarily dedicated to relaxation after a hectic week. I love catching up on my favorite series, spending quality time with my family, enjoying leisurely walks, and watching a good football match. On Sunday evenings, I also take some time to plan for the next week. It’s the perfect balance to recharge and set the tone for a productive week ahead.

What are your top three business goals this year?

My colleagues and I are working hard to consolidate our leading position in the Maltese residence and citizenship-by-investment space.  We do this by providing outstanding, loyal advice to some of the world’s most successful and innovative business families. As a truly Maltese law firm, we provide integrated legal, immigration, and tax services, focusing on facilitation and delivering results. This is how we earn our new client referrals.

These would be the top goals:

  • I would like to grow our Citizenship by Descent practice. Malta is now a successful island economy in the European Union, but even in the 20th century, many expats passed through Malta before spreading to various continents. The Maltese diaspora of next-generation Maltese descendants counts hundreds of thousands who may have a claim to Maltese citizenship by descent. The firm has been active in this niche citizenship law area for over 20 years, so I’m in the right place to develop this practice.
  • We continue to work closely with our clients who serve as the catalyst for our understanding of the changing market needs and for developing practical, solution-oriented expertise.

What’s your biggest business concern right now?

My foremost business concern within the industry at the moment is that there is a widespread lack of clarity in explaining program requirements, especially when it comes to the disclosure of source of wealth and funds, and the establishing of genuine links.

Some practitioners do not educate their potential clients and prefer to mention the requirements briefly without going into detail. This ambiguity can lead to misunderstandings and potential complications for clients and, most of the time, we end up engaging clients already in the process who prefer having a law firm assisting them throughout the process.

Which book is on your nightstand right now?

I don’t have a specific book on my nightstand currently. I’m more inclined towards reading materials on current affairs and geopolitics rather than traditional books. Staying informed about global events and understanding geopolitical dynamics is my preferred way of keeping up with the world.

I am also working on writing a book on citizenship law, but more on that later.

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How and when did you first get into the investment migration industry?

As part of my doctorate in law, I completed my research on The Acquisition and Loss of Maltese Citizenship at around the same time as the launch of the Malta Individual Investor Programme in 2014. Given my ambitions in the immigration law sector, I won a position at Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates, who already at that time were at the forefront of residency and citizenship law in Malta. 

10 years on, I am a Senior Lawyer at the firm, overseeing one of the firm’s investment migration teams and enjoying a challenging but clear growth path. I love the firm’s steady evolution whilst remaining firmly grounded in strong ethical values. It feels very much like family.

What was your proudest moment as a service provider?

My proudest moments as a professional come when I witness the success and happiness of families I’ve advised on specific residence and citizenship programs. Seeing them receive approvals and enjoy the benefits of their chosen paths is truly gratifying. Knowing that I’ve played a role in positively impacting their lives through informed guidance is what makes this profession deeply rewarding for me.

I am also proud when I witness families of Maltese descent rediscovering their heritage. It’s genuinely rewarding when we can successfully source old birth and marriage certificates, facilitating the process for them to obtain Maltese citizenship. Being part of that journey to reconnect with one’s roots and heritage is not just a professional achievement but a deeply fulfilling experience that brings me great pride.

Which investment migration market development has surprised you the most in the last year?

I am surprised by the ongoing changes in the Portuguese and Greek Golden residence by investment programmes with the removal of the property investment option in Portugal and the expected price hike in Greece. Such shocks, coupled with excruciating delays in processing, sometimes going beyond the two-year mark, send the wrong message to the industry and impact clients’ trust in the sector.

If you could go ten years back in time, what business decision would you change?

As lawyers, we are usually shaped to work in court, and we lack exposure to commercial and management training. Hence, if I could go back in time, I would dedicate time to learning other skills like communications, financial management, and business development, which I have had to learn throughout these years in the industry.

What investment migration industry personality do you most admire?

Throughout my time working in the industry, I have made a lot of contacts and friends whom I admire for what they have managed to build.

If all goes according to plan, what will you be doing five years from now?

Waking every morning and helping clients in this industry doesn’t feel like a job. I enjoy what I do, and I hope that the industry survives all the negative aura by strengthening its due diligence and weeding out bad actors. Hence, I hope to be still advising clients on various residence and citizenship routes and seeing my firm continue to achieve that on a daily basis.

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