The project on transparency looked at various countries that had implemented schemes to sell citizenship to the rich.The project on transparency looked at various countries that had implemented schemes to sell citizenship to the rich.

The government’s lack of transparency and accountability was costing Malta’s reputation dearly, MEP Francis Zammit Dimech said on Monday.

He was speaking in reaction to a report by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and Transparency International, which referred to what it termed “the golden visa scheme”. The project looked at countries that had implemented schemes to sell citizenship to the rich.

In the report, former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil warned of the “Dubai-ification of the island”, noting the construction sites and high-rise buildings across Malta, particularly Sliema.

Dr Zammit Dimech said the government was ignoring multiple appeals from civil society, opposition parties and a cross-party MEP delegation to publish the names of passport buyers.

“What is there to hide?

“Why all this secrecy concerning the names of those granted Maltese citizenship through Henley & Partners, the firm that has threatened the media with Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) action?” he said.

He reiterated calls for the European Commission to take action on the issue, adding that the lack of transparency might threaten the security of EU citizens.

Dr Zammit Dimech noted that this matter was becoming increasingly worrying for the Maltese, as confirmed in the latest Eurobarometer survey.

Calls for the EU Commission to take action

The call to publish the names of citizens naturalised through the IIP scheme came one day after Opposition leader Adrian Delia said he would be taking the Electoral Commission to court for withholding the names of those granted the right to vote in Malta through the scheme.

The Electoral Commission had written to Identity Malta for more information, but it was withheld, Dr Delia said. He noted, also, that the Nationalist Party had been looking into the matter for the past 18 months.

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