A National and Social Development Fund financed by cash from the sale of passports to wealthy foreigners is “a work in progress”, according to its head.

David Curmi, a former president of the Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, said that the board of governors was putting in place the necessary infrastructure to get the fund going.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said last October that the fund already contained €75 million from the sale of passports. The fund is expected to administer some €1 billion that the government believes will be generated through the scheme.

Mr Curmi confirmed that no money had been transferred yet to the development fund from Identity Malta, the agency receiving the money from the Individual Investor Programme.

The fund forms part of the controversial IIP ‘passport-for-cash’ scheme introduced in 2014.

Revenue it generated would be used to finance projects of national importance, according to government plans.

Announcements, including some projects the fund will help finance, will be made shortly

The IIP regulations set out that 70 per cent of the contributions received by Identity Malta under the programme shall be paid to the National Development and Social Fund, with the remaining 30 per cent free to be used by the government.

Mr Curmi said money from the IIP had to be segregated and the fund was in the process of opening accounts with the Central Bank of Malta and appointing a chief executive officer to take care of its day-to-day administration.

An advert seeking to recruit a CEO was published on Thursday, with the deadline being July 1.

The fund’s board of governors was appointed late last year. It is composed of Malta Council for Economic and Social Development chairman John Bencini, former Central Bank of Malta governor Michael Bonello, economist Karm Farrugia and former Labour candidate Maria Camilleri, in addition to Mr Curmi.

Mr Curmi said announcements, including some projects the fund would help finance, would be made “shortly”.

Malta sells passports to wealthy foreigners for the price of €650,000. Passport applicants are also bound to buy or rent property and invest in government bonds to the tune of €115,000.

Ten days ago, Identity Malta turned down a request by this newspaper to give information on the origin of those buying Maltese passports, justifying this on the basis that it could “prejudice relations with some countries of origin”.

According to Henley & Partners, the company that designed the cash-for-citizenship programme for the government, the majority of those wanting a Maltese passport are millionaires hailing from the former Soviet republics.

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