The Laundry Man by Kenneth Rijock ( Penguin/Random House UK)

Friday, August 21, 2020

MALTA MUST CANCEL ITS ECONOMIC PASSPORT SALES PROGRAM TO CHEAT THE MONEYVAL HANGMAN



The arrest of Malta's former Consul General for Shanghai, Aldo Cutajar, and his wife, Isabel, on money laundering charges this week looked like yet another play by the beleaguered country's leaders to show financial crime arrests, ahead of a probable MONEYVAL adverse October action, but it was much more than that. Cutajar, the brother of Civil Service leader Mario Cutajar, is this week's Malta poster boy for corruption; police found €500,000 in cash in his home and records of an additional €400,000 existing in a Dubai, UAE bank account.

Many observers believe that, in truth and in fact, the money came from bribes paid to Cutajar from consultants participating in Malta's lucrative Individual Investor Programme (IIP), the country's Citizenship by Investment scheme. The sordid, back street nature of the relationship between large CBI consultants and local government officials in Malta, replete with the payment of large bribes & kickbacks, has poisoned the public's view of the entire CBI process, and frankly I do not blame them one bit. Malta's reputation for seedy corruption was bad enough, but the IIP drove it over the edge, making Malta the center of attention in the EU, and not for the right things.


Let me humbly suggest that the time has come for Malta's senior officials to exhibit some real leadership, and follow the European Union recommendation to cancel the IIP altogether. While greedy politicians anxious for those bribes and perks may oppose such a move, true reform on a national level will not occur so long as they are mesmerized by the lure of easy money, paid silently under the table. Cancel the bloody program, Malta, to show the EU that you are serious about cleaning up your mess. CBI programs should exist only in those countries that can cleanly administer them, for the benefit of the applicants, not for dirty politicians' pockets.


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