Peter Thiel, a billionaire linked to Donald Trump, and a major donor to right-wing American political candidates this year, is reportedly in the middle of the application process for an IIM (CBI) passport from the Republic off Malta. Frankly, I am surprised that any wealthy applicant would seek a Maltese passport, given that the European Union is in the midst of filing legal proceedings to terminate the programme as its residence requirements, as actually applied, allow absentee citizenship, which is inconsistent with European values, amongst other issues. Why buy a passport that may soon be worthless and void, Mr. Thiel?
The second reason for Thiel, and indeed all Americans, to not associate themselves with Malta is the island nation's rampant money laundering and financial crime, which raises the risk that holders of CBI passports may find themselves interrogated at length by customs and immigration officers, upon arrival at an international airport of entry abroad They may have their bags and baggage searched for evidence of bulk cash smuggling or illegal importation of financial instruments or drugs, or even be bared from entry and even deported, especially if criminals carrying Maltese passports, which include the local Mafia, have been arrested recently in that jurisdiction. Immigration officers are well aware of the visa-free Schengen Zone entry, which might invite further scrutiny as well.
Finally, the possibility that users of Maltese passports could end up as Persons of Interest to foreign law enforcement agencies, by virtue of the fact that nationals of high-risk jurisdictions, such as Iran, Russia, Syria and North Korea are known to hold them as well, increases the risk of being profiled and investigated, without their knowledge.
The problem is that most CBI passport purchasers fail to engage independent legal counsel, to ascertain what the potential negative consequences of using those passports in international travel could be. Malta is a singularly high-risk jurisdiction, and independent counsel will most likely point this out to their clients. Stay away from Malta, Mr. Thiel, and all Americans as well. You do not need these problems.