Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli, Castille, and the Individual Investor Programme’s (IIP) CEO starred and provided the stellar backdrop in a promotional video for the now-suspended passport seller at the centre of an IIP scandal.
Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates was able to use leading government figures and a historic auberge to promote their citizenship flogging initiative, even though they have “no relationship whatsoever” with Farrugia Portelli.
The firm is at the centre of a scandal involving a French TV show’s undercover footage, which shows lawyers boasting about their ministerial connections, namely with Farrugia Portelli and Joseph Muscat, and how authorities would “close an eye” to buyers with a criminal record.
Shot throughout the iconic halls of the Prime Minister’s office and base of operations, Farrugia Portelli kicks off Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates’ advert by espousing how the IIP program “created an economic niche” in the country.
“Countries like Malta which have embraced this opportunity are attracting a wealth of talent and economic prosperity,” Farrugia Portelli says in the promotional campaign.
Up next in the promo is IIP CEO Jonathan Cardona, heralding the due diligence employed by the state body. An ironic twist given that the firm unashamedly advertised would lose its license just a year later.
The next state official/promoter in the video, Malta Residency Visa Agency’s CEO Roderick Cutajar follows the line of economic prosperity, once again putting the financial benefits of IIP front and centre for prospective clientele.
The best is saved for last with Chetcuti Cauchi’s Managing Partner Jean Phillip Chetcuti using a meeting room normally reserved for the cabinet to land his closing sales pitch.
“Malta is an international hub of substance,” Chetcuti said, listing his firm’s long portfolio in a setting designed to discuss some of Malta’s most pressing issues.
The video jars with the government’s stance since the footage emerged. Both Joseph Muscat and Julia Farrugia Portelli, the Parliamentary Secretary for Citizenship, claimed they had “no relationship whatsoever with the firm”, limiting their acquaintance to a passing friendship on the school bus.
Photos published by Lovin Malta proved otherwise, with the pair meeting with Chetcuti at least four times in two years. However, Farrugia Portelli still took umbrage with any implication that their relationship was much more than the official statement indicated.
“The pictures were of myself near a particular nun at a public press conference. I have no relationship with no agent,” she said focusing on a singular word used rather than the content of the piece.
The only question that remains is how many passport sellers have had the luxury of having the Prime Minister’s base of operations, a junior minister, and state CEOs available for promotion?