Prime Minister Joseph Muscat with Henley & Partners chairman Christian Kalin
Henley and Partners, the concessionaires of Malta’s citizenship-for-money scheme, has threatened to sue local news website The Shift News in the US and UK courts over an article about the firm’s alleged involvement in a diplomatic scandal in Grenada.
In its threatening letter, sent last Thursday, Henley warned The Shift News not to publish the contents of the letter, but The Shift News went ahead and published it anyway.
The controversial story revolves around a certain Fahad Sultan Ahmed, a 40-year-old Pakistani businessman residing in the UK who was allegedly granted a Grenada diplomatic passport despite not holding an official diplomatic position.
The Shift cited a report by Caribbean News Now, which linked this controversy to reports that Henley & Partners, which also runs Grenada’s citizenship by investment scheme, was involved in an alleged scheme to obtain a Grenadian diplomatic passport for a Ukrainian businessman in exchange for $1 million.
The Caribbean News Now report also mentions how assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia had said that Henley’s chairman Christian Kalin was part of a “gang of crooks” who sought to financially cripple her.
This was after UK law firm Mischon de Reya had sent Caruana Galizia a series of letters on behalf of Henley & Partners, threatening her with financially ruinous action in the UK courts if she did not remove critical blogposts.
In its letter to The Shift, Henley vehemently denied any involvement in any attempt to obtain diplomatic passports or in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The Shift News quoted an article from Caribbean News Now
“There is simply no basis for these false claims and the publication and re-publication of this fabricated story, along with suggestions that Henley & Partners is in some way connected to the barbaric and brutal murder of the Maltese blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia, are subject to review and further action by our lawyers in the USA and UK, where such defamatory and demonstrably false articles are actionable in court.”
“Besides which, it is very troubling to us and concerning to our legal advisors that you should decide to publish such an article without checking the facts including the latest developments in Malta itself. This would indicate a possible additional defamatory motivation as there is no evidence whatsoever of any kind of involvement of Henley & Partners. I therefore request that you withdraw this story immediately.”
“You ought to be aware that we regard the publication of any allegation implying that Henley & Partners as being connected to criminal activity, or that we are being investigated in relation to it, as being grossly defamatory. All rights in this regard are expressly reserved, without limitation.”
Henley & Partners gave The Shift 24 hours to remove the article and all related social media posts, but the news portal stood firm and told Henley that its article reported “a set of facts that are in the public domain” and that it would be publishing the threatening letter.
“The Shift also made it clear that any further attempts to threaten its right to freedom of expression in a democratic society ‘shall be reacted to in the fullest manner allowed by law’,” The Shift said.
This action comes in the wake of similar threatening letters sent by Pilatus Bank to several Maltese media, warning them of legal action in the US action – where libel fees run in the millions – if they did not remove critical articles.