None of the Maltese government’s top officials, including Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, are receiving any remuneration for speaking at commercial activities organised by passport-selling agents Henley & Partners, Times of Malta is informed.
Malta’s passport scheme, introduced in 2014, is highly controversial within EU circles with critics claiming it helps millionaires shop around for citizenship for tax evasion, money laundering and other purposes.
As in almost all the annual summits organised by H&P since 2013, Dr Muscat is already leading the list of guests invited by the passport-selling company to address its annual global conference this November.
Asked to state whether the Prime Minister and other senior members of the Labour government, who are regularly on the speaking lists of such conferences around the world, are being paid for their participation, Henley and Partners said that this is not the case.
“We do not remunerate Maltese government speakers for their participation in our events. To be very clear, there has never been any sort of cash payments or any form of remuneration,” he said.
This was also confirmed by the Prime Minister’s spokesman who stated that in the case of government officials, all expenses, including travel and lodging costs, are funded by Maltese taxpayers.
“Government representatives are not remunerated for attending these conferences,” he said.
“It is in the interest of Malta to attend such events with the aim of attracting further talent and investment, and hence it is the government which covers costs of this participation,” he told Times of Malta.
According to a contract signed in 2013 between Henley and Partners and the Maltese government, senior government officials, including the Prime Minister, are obliged to participate and promote the selling of Maltese passports during commercial events.
Since 2013, Dr Muscat, accompanied by his chief of staff Keith Schembri, has flown thousands of miles, from New York to Singapore and Dubai, to make speeches to millionaires and their agents wanting to buy a Maltese passport.
Earlier in 2019, a report by the European Commission warned that such schemes, technically known as ‘Citizenship-by-investment’ “creates a range of risks for EU states, in particular risks to security as well as risks on money laundering, corruption and tax evasion.”
Meanwhile, two BBC journalists, Fiona Bruce and Simon Jack, were recently forced to ditch their participation in this November’s Henley & Partners annual conference – known as the Global Citizens Conference – to be organised at the €3,000-a-night Rosewood Hotel in London.
The two high-profile British journalists were already on the speakers’ list.
They had been commissioned by Henley & Partners to deliver a speech at the conference for a fee of €25,000.
However, following details of the ‘deal’ leaked by the British media, the two pulled out of the conference.
Their agent stated that “it is absolutely clear that (the conference) is not something that our clients should be associated with”.