Nationalist MEPs Roberta Metsola and David Casa have refused to meet with Henley and Partners, the concessionaires of Malta’s money-for-citizenship scheme (IIP) after the global firm requested a meeting in Brussels.
Metsola insisted “there is no reason” to hold a meeting unless the British company respected the spirit of the European Parliament resolution on the sale of passports. Metsola also referred to Henley and Partners’ “insistence on threatening Maltese media houses”.
In comments to The Shift PN MEP Francis Zammit Dimech, who also received the letter, said “I feel they did not even deserve a reply.”
In December, Henley and Partners threatened The Shift with legal action in the US and the UK in an attempt to get an article on the company removed. The Shift has refused to remove the article and has published the threat received.
PN MEP David Casa immediately contacted The Shift after receiving a similar letter from Henley and Partners to express solidarity and said that he would not entertain the possibility of a meeting as long as the threat of legal action persisted.
Casa is currently leading efforts in the European Parliament to urge the European Commission to propose an EU Anti-Slapp Directive.
A group of MEPs from various political families called on the European Commission to take note of the recent report made by Mapping Media Freedom with regard to SLAPP practices against The Shift.
SLAPP lawsuits are intended to intimidate and silence investigative journalists and independent media by burdening them with exorbitant legal expenses until they abandon their stance as a result of the threat of financially crippling lawsuits abroad.
In the letter sent to MEPs, Henley and Partners said “each year, hundreds of wealthy individuals and their advisors rely on our expertise and experience in this area,” Henley wrote, boasting that it has been involved in the sale of passports for over 20 years and having 30 offices worldwide with over 300 employees.
While underlining her unwavering commitment to attract foreign investment to Malta, Metsola told Henley and Partners that such investments should be sustainable, benefit the people of Malta and protect the country’s reputation.
“Selling passports ticks none of these boxes,” Metsola wrote, adding that “the little regard Henley and Partners’ ethos holds for the values that I have spent a career fighting to defend, coupled with the company’s reported close links to the most unprincipled elements in Joseph Muscat’s administration, and Henley’s insistence on threatening Maltese media houses – mean that should we meet, there would be really very little for me to say except to again reiterate that I will continue to stand up for media freedom in Malta, push for EU Anti-SLAPP legislation and continue to oppose the sale of citizenship.”
As the Maltese government is about to renew the concession for the sale of passports, Henley & Partners has upped its game and is targeting MEPs to ensure it does not miss out on the new programme.