One of the biggest advocates of a hard Brexit has obtained a Maltese passport, the Financial Times reported.
New Zealand-born billionaire Christopher Chandler is behind Legatum, the London based think-tank that emerged as one of the most vocal advocates for Britain’s departure from the single market and the customs union.
The names of Mr Chandler, as well as Legatum's chief executive Mark Stoleson, and several of his family members appear on a list of individuals who became naturalised citizens of Malta in 2016, FT reported.
Legatum Institute Foundation's charitable status has come under scrutiny following concerns over its “hard” Brexit stance and access to politicians.
According to 2016 figures, Legatum Foundation Limited, the charitable arm of Legatum Group, provided millions in funding to the think-tank, which hired several Eurosceptics, including Matthew Elliott, a co-founder of Vote Leave.
Nationalist MEPs Roberta Metsola said it was "surreal" that a Brexit backer had applied for an EU passport.
MEP Francis Zammit Dimech said the names emanating from the passport scheme confirmed the Opposition's concerns.
Since it was set up in 2014, Malta's citizenship by investment programme has become a gateway for wealthy foreign investors to secure the benefits of an EU passport, including the right to work, live and reside in EU member states.
The list includes other prominent recipients such as Boris Mints, the Russian billionaire owner of investment company O1 Group, and Arkady Volozh, the founder of Yandex, Russia’s biggest search engine.
Members of the European Parliament called for the scheme to be scrapped, amid concerns that it would turn citizenship into a “tradable commodity”.
Individuals can obtain Maltese passports in return for a €650,000 contribution to the national development fund and the purchase or lease of property, as well as well as investments of at least €150,000 in stocks and bonds.
Names revealed by the media confirm concerns raised by the opposition in #Malta and MEPs who visited Malta who made specific recommendations on the IIP. It also explains all the secrecy from disclosing names by the government and the need for full transparency. pic.twitter.com/74CK18Nu11— F Zammit Dimech (@FrancisZD) January 29, 2018