A Chinese national linked to the owner of Macbridge signed a deal with Henley & Partners as a prospective consortium member for a bid to run Montenegro’s citizenship scheme, documents show.

The documents show Mao Haibin, representing the Shanghai-based concessionaries for Maltese residency visa sales in China, signed an agreement in 2016 to form a consortium with Henley & Partners in a bid for the Montenegro concession.

Board minutes from Henley & Partners said a good Chinese immigration entity would be needed for the Montenegro citizenship bid, and for this purpose discussions were held with the company run by Mao. It is not known if the deal went through.

It is not known if the deal went through

A year-long investigation by Times of Malta, Reuters and other international journalism partners recently uncovered how Mao was in business with Tang Zhaomin, the owner of Macbridge International Development.

Tang is in turn the mother-in-law of Accenture negotiator Chen Cheng, who was involved in brokering multi-million euro deals with Enemalta, including for the Montenegro wind farm project.

Macbridge was named in a 2015 email as one of two companies intended to pump money in to secret offshore Panama companies which Castille’s chief of staff Keith Schembri and Energy minister Konrad Mizzi took ownership of that year. The other source of funds was a company owned by murder suspect Yorgen Fenech, 17 Black. Both secret companies were set up by Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna and Karl Cini.

As consultant with Accenture, Chen played a key role in a €320 million deal for Chinese state-owned company Shanghai Electric Power to buy 33 per cent of Enemalta in 2014 and also pitched a Montenegro wind farm deal to the Maltese energy company, which earned Fenech millions of euro.

Shanghai Overseas Exit-Entry Services Co Ltd, a company run by Mao, used to be the official concessionaire to sell Maltese residency visas in China.

Chinese records uncovered by the journalistic investigation showed that Mao has ties to both Chen and his mother-in-law – the woman who directs Macbridge.

Mao and Chen were partners in at least two companies, including Shanghai Visabao Network Technology Co Ltd, which operates in several major Chinese cities and helps Chinese citizens procure visas abroad.

Chen’s mother-in-law is a manager and shareholder at a Shanghai advertising agency controlled by Mao, which in turn was a major sponsor of Malta Residence and Visa Programme events in China.

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