A UK parliamentary committee investigating global dirty money flows has been warned that Malta could turn to “questionable” Chinese and Central Asian money to make up for lost passport sales to rich Russians.

In written submissions to the committee, former UK government adviser Shanker Singham warned that efforts by Malta to fill the financial void left from passport sales to Russians could see it turn to equally dubious sources of passport money.

Malta suspended the sale of passports to rich Russians in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Singham, once an adviser to former secretary of state Liam Fox, charted in his submissions to the committee how historically Malta has been used as a site for Russian funds as well as “the EU visa of choice” for Russian oligarchs.

“Cyprus has long been the target for Russian oligarchs’ funds but it does appear that the Kremlin is turning its attention to Malta,” according to Singham.

He pointed out it is “highly likely” that a decision by Malta to reject what is known as a status of forces agreement with the United States was secured because of Russian and Chinese pressure for Malta to maintain its neutrality.

Efforts by Malta to fill the financial void left from passport sales to Russians could see it turn to equally dubious sources of passport money- Shanker Singham

No further evidence was provided by Singham to back up the claim.

The US has signed such agreements with several other countries, designed to cover military cooperation or visits by military forces, which, in the case of Malta, would be ship visits.

Singham also warned that the failure to satisfy core good governance and rule of law requirements could see a further backslide in Malta’s fight against financial crime.

Failure to do so could see the country attract illicit money flows, rather than licit ones.

“Malta has to choose: there is no space between a licit node and an illicit one,” Singham says.

His submissions about Malta come as part of a wider probe conducted by the foreign affairs committee into dirty money.

The inquiry by the committee is exploring the significant challenges to the global economy brought about by the vast flows of dirty money across borders.

As part of the probe, the committee issued a call for written submissions of evidence, such as that provided by Singham.

Singham is a former member of the Legatum Institute, a pro-Brexit think-thank whose backer, Christopher Chandler, bought a Maltese passport in 2016.

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