A lawyer whose licence to sell Maltese passports was suspended following a French TV sting told undercover journalists that ministers could “wink” to help give him information about citizenship applications.
Leaked footage of Jean-Philippe Chetcuti’s conversation with a journalist posing as a prospective Maltese passport buyer shows the lawyer explain how he can lobby ministers to get more information about problematic applications.
In the recorded conversation, Dr Chetcuti makes it clear that there is no way to appeal a rejected passport application, but suggests there are more subtle ways of operating.
Dr Chetcuti tells his interlocutor that while ministers cannot provide any information about applicants, they can help him glean information without uttering a word.
“I don’t tell the Minister ‘you’ve done a bad job or you made a mistake’. We say, ‘look, I think with more information, we can have a fuller picture’ and sometimes - they can’t tell me the reason, but they can wink when I suggest certain things and therefore it helps me submit information to contradict that,” he can be heard saying in the video.
The raw footage comes from French TV programme Enquete Exclusive, which dedicated an episode to Malta, describing it as a "corruption island".
In the programme, viewers watched as Dr Chetcuti described being close to ministers involved in the cash-for-passports scheme and Paceville mogul Luke Chetcuti claimed that another minister was keen to help him obtain a beach concession at St George’s Bay.
Ministers have all denied any involvement or knowledge of both sets of claims.
A spokesman for Chetcuti Cauchi had initially said that the French TV producers mistranslated claims.
"The footage aired on the French TV station amounted to a gross misinterpretation, misrepresentation and incorrect translation of our representative’s words,” a spokesman had said.
Chetcuti Cauchi’s licence to sell citizenship was suspended within hours of the TV programme being aired.
'Nothing to add'
Raw footage of the conversation was published to Russian video site Rutube on October 10 - two days after Dr Chetcuti issued a public statement insisting he and his firm, Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates, “never broke the law” or “spoke to politicians to illegally intervene on our clients’ behalf”.
When contacted on Saturday, Dr Chetcuti said he had nothing further to add to that statement.
"This [footage] supports what I said," he said.
The Chamber of Advocates has referred Dr Chetcuti’s case to the Commission for the Administration of Justice and the regulator of the Individual Investment Programme is analysing each IIP application submitted by his firm.