The popular British magazine Private Eye has published a letter from an anonymous Maltese correspondent, which warns its readers about Pilatus Bank and Malta’s relationship with Russia.
“Malta may have a population no larger than that of Cardiff, but our crowded island has no room for any of the migrants drifting across the Mediterranean from Africa,” the letter reads. “We have, however, proved more welcoming to an influx of well-heeled Russians attracted no doubt by our warm weather and tradition of liberal democracy. By coincidence, we also have a tradition of financial secrecy; and are in the business of selling our passports for €1 million a pop, with a relaxed view on residency requirements.”
Private Eye’s correspondent raised questions about Malta’s relationship with Russia, noting that several Russian oligarchs have already purchased Maltese citizenship and that Malta was one of only a handful of European countries which didn’t expel any Russian diplomats in solidarity with the UK in the wake of the recent poisoning of former KGB spy Sergei Skripal.
This was despite Skripal himself having Soviet Embassy in Malta as a attaché to the then Soviet Embassy back in the early 1990s.
The newspaper also refers to recent reports by the Daphne Project that the two daughters of Azerbaijan’s ruler Ilham Aliyev used accounts at Pilatus Bank to transfer money into Europe and Asia, raising questions as to where this money had originated from.
“Immigration authorities may begin to look at travel documents from plucky little Malta not just as harmless but as potentially high risk covers for dodgy Putinistas,” the letter reads. “That risks devaluing our passports, the very product we are looking to sell. And although our police are sparing no efforts in the hunt at least to look like they are trying to find out who was behind the murder six months ago of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia — the world is still vaguely watching – it’s a fact that she had spent the last three years of her life digging up the layered secrets of the passport scheme and Pilatus Bank.”