A Russian millionaire who wanted to purchase Malta’s golden passport through the Individual Investment Programme but who failed the due diligence test is suing the government in a bid to overturn the decision.
Yury Sergeevich Danilov, 41, from Moscow, is claiming 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 told the court that that he had 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 for himself, his wife and his daughter, 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 the deputy head of the Russia region, CIS, Baltics and Mongolia. The firm is a joint venture of the world leader in rail sector Bombardier Transportation and the Russian Railways (RZhD) and is the number one supplier of rail technologies in Russia.
The State is not duty-bound to give reasons for an IIP refusal, as this could impinge on national security
Mr Danilov said the statement showed that he was personally worth almost €2.7 million. He explained that that 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.
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.
Mr Danilov argued that Identity Malta had not given him any other explanation for its refusal to accept his application and requested the court, presided over by Mr Justice Mark Chetcuti, to declare Identity Malta and the Justice Minister’s administrative decision null and void and to order a review.
The court upheld the preliminary pleas by the Justice Ministry that Mr Danilov’s action was null as it had not been preceded by a judicial letter in terms of law.
Mr Justice Chetcuti yesterday ruled that no judicial action could be brought against the government or against any authority established by the constitution unless it was preceded by a judicial letter filed at least 10 days before the court case.
It resulted that Mr Danilov had filed a judicial letter against Identity Malta but had not done so in respect of the Justice Minister, as he contended that this was unnecessary since Identity Malta fell within the responsibility of the same ministry.
But the court disagreed with this submission, saying that Identity Malta was a separate entity from the ministry.
The ministry argued that the State was not duty-bound to give reasons for the refusal of an Individual Investor Programme application as doing so could impinge upon national security.
Mr Justice Chetcuti declared that Mr Danilov’s action was null and void in respect of the Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government but was valid in respect of Identity Malta and ordered that the case continues against this authority.
Lawyer Cedric Mifsud appeared for the Russian.