A Russian millionaire who sought to purchase Malta’s golden passport but was rejected has won compensation over court delays into his appeal.

Yury Sergeevich Danilov, from Moscow, had sued the government claiming that its 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.

This case dragged on for years with very little progress, leading him to file a separate case that the delays were breaching his human right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time.

Mr Justice Toni Abela upheld his claims, ruling that the fact that the case has been pending for five years and seven months was unreasonable.

The judge noted that the case was hit with a one-year delay because two witnesses who were called to testify did not attend.

“The court observes that the proceedings were delayed by almost a year as a consequence of a lack of attendance by two particular witnesses. These witnesses hold office which, ironically, represent the State which is obliged to protect the rule of law with an efficient system of administration of justice,” the judge said.

He added that according to the court minutes, "...the first Court took very little action not to allow any of the parties, including the defence, to abuse the judicial process and at the same time ensure that they serve their duty within a reasonable time.”

He said it was evident that the court did not comply with the constitutional and European Convention requirement to ensure the proper hearing of the process within a reasonable time.

Danilov told the court that he had applied for Maltese citizenship through Nexia BT International Ltd, which was an approved IIP agent. He submitted all the necessary documentation, including information requested for his wife and daughter.

He said he had paid €17,500 in fees, €10,000 in deposits and committed himself to pay a further €700,000 in the imposed contributions. Moreover, he leased a home in Mellieħa and had moved to Malta with his family. He presented evidence to the court showing that he was worth almost €2.7 million.

But in August 2015, Nexia BT received a letter from Identity Malta signed by its head, Joe Vella Bonnici, declaring “…the application does not meet the required criteria” and that the application was being rejected.

Through his lawyer, Cedric Mifsud, Danilov argued that Identity Malta had not given him any other explanation for its refusal to accept his application and called on the court to declare the decision null and void.

With the case still pending after 14 sittings instead of the planned three, Danilov sued the State Attorney in February 2016, claiming a breach of his right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time. Mr Justice Abela said this delay was “a direct result of the obstacles created by witnesses from Identity Malta”.

The judge observed that First Hall of the Civil Court had taken four years and four months to determine two preliminary pleas.

“This court understands that sometimes our courts permit certain delays because they want to give parties as much time as possible to present their case. However, with the abundant caution taken... they are risking breaching the other principle of fair hearing within a reasonable time,” Mr Justice Abela said as he upheld Danilov’s complaint and awarded him €4,000 in compensation.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us