As published on maltatoday.com.mt, Saturday 19 February, 2022.
ADPD – The Green Party has called for an end to the sale of citizenships, calling the “golden passports” scheme unacceptable.
In a press conference in Castille Square in Valletta on Saturday, ADPD called for the citizenship scheme to be discontinued, before it a ban is imposed on Malta.
Carmel Cacopardo, ADPD chairperson, said citizenship matters were the competence of the individual Member States but remarked this was not an absolute right.
“Each Member State had an obligation, on the basis of the loyalty principle as explained in the EU treaties, not to do anything that impacts on the other Member States. EU citizenship gives free movement rights within the Schengen area – a right that no country can grant to anyone who is not entitled to it,” Cacopardo said.
He said many persons who obtained the citizenhip through the scheme, had been involved in financial crime “in spite of all the supposedly careful due diligence that should have been carried out.”
The report presented to the European Parliament highlights that this risk cannot be properly assessed because of a lack of transparency as well as weak vetting of the applicants. In this regard besides Malta, the report also refers to similar schemes in Cyprus and Bulgaria.
“Although the Maltese government had revised the original scheme with an increased emphasis on residency, this can still lead to citizenship. So far, there has not been any feedback from the European Commission about the revised scheme,” he said.
Cacopardo remarked how the proposal being put forward to the European Parliament, requests that such schemes are discontinued by not later than 2025.
“ADPD is the only party that has consistently insisted that the ‘golden passports’ schemes are not acceptable because they attracted persons linked to financial criminality, as has in fact resulted, but also put our country in the spotlight leading to irreparable damage as in the case of the FATF grey listing. We have voiced our concerns about this since the first scheme was proposed in 2014.”
ADPD Deputy Chairperson and candidate Mario Mallia stated that the discussions about the citizenship scheme that were again in the news both locally and within European Parliament structures during the past week confirmed what has always been clear: the Member States’ competence in relation to citizenship is not an absolute one.
“EU treaties refer to the loyalty principle which should be adopted by Member States [...] As has been reported extensively in the media many of those who received Maltese citizenship through the ‘golden passport’ scheme had been previously charged with fraud, contraband, money laundering and tax evasion. All this after Malta had carried out its supposedly ‘rigorous’ due diligence,” Mallia stated.
He mentioned a report being put up for discussion at the European Parliament, which he said stated the schemes had been set up by member states subject to risks related to financial secrecy, such as tax avoidance and evasion, money laundering, and corruption.
“What is wrong remains wrong - in spite of all the theatrics we saw from the Nationalist Party’s side this week with respect to the regulator, nothing, not even PN’s posturing, will negate the fact that, as also stated in the EP report, European values are not for sale and European citizenship should not be considered as a product to be marketed,” Mallia concluded.