Sales of Maltese passports face more competition as Montenegro plans to launch a similar scheme in the coming weeks.
A Montenegrin citizenship will be cheaper than a Maltese passport. Henley & Partners, one of the consultants of the Montenegrin scheme and which also acts as advisers to the Maltese government, said a Montenegro passport could be obtained against a donation of €100,000. Applicants will also have to invest in property in the Balkan country, which is aspiring to join the European Union.
Montenegrin passport buyers have been given the option to either buy a property of a minimum value of €450,000 in the south of the country, considered to be more developed, or spend at least €250,000 in property located in the less-developed north.
In contrast, the donation to the Maltese government amounts to €650,000 and must be accompanied by a real estate acquisition costing at least €350,000.
Passport buyers can also opt for a lease of a minimum of €16,000 annually for five years.
Industry sources pointed out that though a Montenegrin passport was “much” cheaper, Maltese citizenship could give applicants more reach.
“Buying a Maltese passport is still more attractive if one wants to acquire rights as an EU citizen,” the sources noted.
They warned, however, that competition was increasing, pointing out that a Montenegrin passport could still offer a millionaire many additional rights, including visa-free travel to about 115 countries.
The sources commented on the role of Henley & Partners in so many passport sale schemes.
“The Maltese government’s consultants are now also devising and selling other similar schemes, not only in the Caribbean but even in Europe, which may be in direct competition to Malta’s scheme. The relationship bet-ween the Maltese government and Henley & Partners might have to be revisited in the coming months as it might not be any longer in Malta’s interest,” they remarked.
Malta’s scheme has been doing significantly well since its controversial introduction in 2013 when the government was forced by the European Commission to introduce stricter conditions on residency then the ones suggested by Henley & Partners.
Originally uncapped, Prime Minster Joseph Muscat had declared that the island agreed with Brussels not to sell more than 1,800 passports to main clients apart from their dependents.
It is not yet known how many Maltese passports have been sold although Identity Malta sources said the half-way mark of the capped number had long been surpassed.
Henley & Partners have been lobbying the government to remove the capping.
Montenegro has decided that its scheme will only be open to 2,000 applicants.
Moldova introduced a similar scheme a few weeks ago.
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