Almost one in four applicants for Malta’s golden passport scheme are refused, official data seen by the Times of Malta shows.

Around half the refused applications came from Russian nationals while the rest were from Chinese, Libyans, Indians, Ukrainians and Americans, among other nationalities.

Details on reasons behind the refusals are not divulged, with government sources saying it was a matter of national security but applications are only refused when the applicant or anyone of his dependents fail the rigorous due diligence tests.

The Times of Malta reported yesterday that a Russian millionaire who failed the due diligence test and who had his application refused took the matter to court in a bid to have the decision reversed.

Yury Sergeevich Danilov, 41, who resides in Moscow, complained in court that the government’s outright refusal to grant him Maltese citizenship without giving him the opportunity to address any issues with his application was in breach of the principle of natural justice. He applied for Maltese citizenship through an approved agent, Nexia BT Inter­national Ltd.

He claimed that he had submitted all the necessary documentation along with his application for citizenship, including a statement declaring where his funds were being sourced.

This statement showed that he was employed with Bombardier Transportation (Signal) Limited and held the position of deputy head of the Russia region, CIS, Baltics and Mongolia.

Basically, we flag anything dodgy

Mr Danilov said the statement showed that he was personally worth almost €2.7 million. He said he had paid the €17,500 in fees, €10,000 in deposits and committed himself to paying a further €700,000 in contributions.

Moreover, he had signed a lease agreement for a Mellieħa maisonette and moved here with his wife and daughter.

Sources said details on Mr Danilov’s application would emerge in court. He is the first person to sue the government for not granting him citizenship.

Sources close to Identity Malta, which processes IIP applications, said the due diligence test analyses the applicants’ past activities, the source of wealth and anything that could be reputational risk for the country.

“Basically, we flag anything dodgy,” the source noted.

Rolled out in 2013, the IIP allows wealthy individuals to a buy a Maltese passport against a payment of €650,000, a property investment of €350,000 and an additional contribution of €150,000 towards government bonds.

The programme drew huge criticism amid concerns that its beneficiaries, whose names are published alongside all naturalised Maltese persons, could be shady individuals with no genuine link to the island. Subsequently, the government was forced by the EU to introduce a residence clause.

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