Financial and administrative institutions must not continuously put at “undue risk” the running of the Individual Investor Programme (IIP), the passport sale scheme’s regulator has said.

In an annual report tabled in Parliament, the IIP regulator said that in doing so, such institutions were directly or indirectly jeopardising both the government’s and the Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency’s (MIIPA) initiatives towards a more efficient and effective running of the programme, including a speedier collection of all contributions coming from the scheme.

Since the scheme’s launch until June 30, 2017, the report says €408 million had been paid into the National Development and Social Fund, €174 million into the consolidated fund, €35 million to the agency running the scheme as well as €28 million to Henley & Partners, the scheme’s concessionaire.

The scheme’s regulator said that if financial institutions cannot work towards helping make the scheme more efficient because of “a number of over-rigid and even often insensitive and insensible measures”, then a totally different legal route needed to be devised without further delay.

List should be subjected to parliamentary scrutiny

“This would ensure that these dues get through to Malta’s coffers in an orderly manner without obliging a successful applicant and the MIIPA to pass through the unwarranted and uncalled-for ordeal brought about by local banks following the months-long internationally acclaimed due diligence processes and procedures that are adhered to by the MIIPA before an applicant is finally accepted to become a citizen of Malta under this programme,” the scheme’s regulator said.

In a separate section of the report, the regulator latches on to a suggestion by one of the scheme’s agents to stop publishing the names of Maltese passport buyers in the Government Gazette.

A list containing thousands of names is published once a year, with no distinction made between those who bought their passports and other naturalised citizens.

The regulator expressed its agreement with the suggestion that instead of the names being published in the Government Gazette, the list should be subjected to parliamentary scrutiny whereby MPs are given access to the data but would be bound by an oath of secrecy.

The report says that during the year under review (July 2017-June 2018), a number of requests for information, some of which came through the freedom of information channels, were submitted regarding the scheme.

These ranged from details of the identity and origin of passport buyers, data on agents securing the most successful applicants and concrete figures relating to findings during IIP residence spot-checks.

“In all cases the requests for information were refused for various reasons, in line with the provisions in the Freedom of Information Act,” the regulator said.

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