Rule-of-law NGO Repubblika said on Friday it had refunded a €1,500 donation that it unknowingly received from a person who gained Maltese citizenship through the golden passports scheme.

On Monday the organisation said it never knowingly received a donation from anyone who bought Maltese citizenship, and pledged that should that be the case, it will return the donation immediately.

The group was reacting to stories carried on the newspaper Illum and on One TV.

The government obliges applicants for Maltese citizenship to declare a donation to a Maltese organisation.

Repubblika, which has taken a firm stand against the sale of Maltese passports, said on Friday it had been provided with details about the identity of the donor and had immediately refunded the donation.

In a letter sent to the unnamed donor, the NGO said : "though we are happy to welcome new Maltese citizens who make our country their home, we disagree that citizenship should be retailed and reserved for very wealthy people while other people, at least just as committed to the well-being of our community as you presumably are, are excluded because they are less rich".

Repubblika's president Robert Aquiina added that as campaigners for democracy and the rule-of-law, the NGO depended on the generous support of the public.

"We do not benefit from any public funding in spite of the fact that fighting corruption is self-evidently a public good. We cannot, however, in the process of raising funding for our work, accept to become enablers to a scheme that we consider as unfair and unlawful."

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