An international lobby group for passport sales whose board of governors includes Henley & Partners chairman Christian Kälin has found no breach of its code of ethics by lawyer Jean-Philippe Chetcuti.
Henley & Partners were given the lucrative concession by the government to run the Maltese passport sale scheme.
Chetcuti was secretly filmed by a French documentary, which portrayed him as boasting about how his close ties with top government officials could help facilitate the Maltese passport buying process, for which his law firm Chetcuti Cauchi is an agent.
In a statement, Chetcuti Cauchi said the Investment Migration Council had concluded a “thorough seven-month investigation” into “allegations” by French media.
The law firm said the “precautionary investigation” was based only on claims made in French by the TV programme, added in voice-over to muted footage of a meeting with Chetcuti.
No other evidence was presented to back these claims, the statement said.
Chetcuti Cauchi were suspended as passport agents by the government last year after the documentary was aired.
A magisterial inquiry looking into potential trading-in-influence was also started upon a request by NGO Repubblika.
Chetcuti Cauchi said in the statement that the Migration Council had closed off its investigation and re-instated Jean-Philippe Chetcuti as a member.
According to the statement, the Migration Council stated that “reaching a fair and just decision in this case, was only possible by taking into account all evidence, including the ORiiP Analysis and the raw footage of your entire meeting with the French undercover journalist which allows for assessment of the entire context of your discussion with the French undercover journalist".
Chetcuti said he welcomed the Council’s findings, saying the raw unedited footage contradicted the assertions made by French media.
“We appreciate the thorough scrutiny of this and the Report of the IIP Regulator and welcome the IMC’s conclusions wholeheartedly. Chetcuti Cauchi is a firm built on strong ethical principles and we have full faith in the honourable conduct of our representatives”, Chetcuti said.
Last month, the Commissioner for Standards admonished Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli for allowing Chetcuti Cauchi to film a promotional video about the passport scheme inside Castille.
At the time the video was shot, Farrugia Portelli was politically responsible for the passport sale scheme.
In April, the European Commission wrote to the Maltese, Cypriot and Bulgarian governments, urging them to “phase out” such schemes.
Correction April 28: An earlier version of this article erroneously referred to Christian Kälin as the chairman of the Investment Migration Council.
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