Former Alternattiva Demokratika leader and independent MEP candidate Arnold Cassola has formally asked the National Audit Office to request the refunding of public funds used to finance trips overseas by the Prime Minister and his delegates to promote the sale of Maltese citizenship.
“The Maltese taxpayer is paying for Joseph Muscat and his friends to travel to promote the activities of a private company, Henley and Partners, and to make things worse, these promotions are smearing Malta and the Maltese people,” Cassola wrote in a letter to the NAO.
“Besides the fact that our people and country don’t deserve to be tarnished this way due to the wrong, illegal and unacceptable behaviour of some, we are paying with taxpayers money for it.”
Cassola made his request in light of a feature on Malta aired by French TV programme Enquête Exclusive.
In this show, a lawyer from Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates, later identified as the firm’s partner Jean-Philippe Chetcuti, could be heard boasting of his connections to people in power, including the Prime Minister. When the journalist, posing as a potential representative of people interested in purchasing Maltese citizenship, said one of his clients had a criminal record, the lawyer said the authorities could close an eye.
The law firm’s license to act as an agent for the Individual Investment Programme has since been suspended and the IIP regulator has commenced a vetting process into all the clients processed by the law firm so far.
Times of Malta recently filed a Freedom of Information request for a list of all government officials who have travelled overseas to promote the IIP since 2013 but its request was turned down n the grounds that the information would be too difficult to collect.