Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja will be entertaining Henley and Partners’ guests in London this evening “on behalf of the Prime Minister of Malta,” his manager confirmed, although any trace of the event has been removed from the company’s website following criticism in Malta of his participation.
The event to be held at Drapers’ Hall in London to “celebrate the remarkable success of the Malta Individual Investor Programme,” as the passport sales scheme is called, was advertised on the Henley and Partners’ web site for months. Yet details of the event were deleted following the controversy.
The acclaimed tenor is Malta’s cultural ambassador. Criticism of his participation in the corporate event has been raging since Henley and Partners threatened journalists in Malta – assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and The Shift News – with SLAPP lawsuits intended to cripple journalists financially and silence them.
Questioning whether the event had been cancelled, The Shift News called Drapers’ Hall to confirm it was still happening: “Yes. Unfortunately, it’s a corporate event. Please call the Henley and Partners’ office in Malta to enquire”.
This confirmed the event was still being held, yet Henley and Partners and Malta’s cultural ambassador had removed its promotional material.
The Shift News contacted Calleja’s manager to question his participation. “It is an event on behalf of the Prime Minister of Malta [Joseph Muscat],” he said.
Pressed on the controversy, and demands by citizens that Calleja stand by citizens not the government during a critical situation in the country, he said:
“Joseph Calleja is an opera singer renowned on the international stage. He is regularly invited to such high profile corporate events. Henley and Partners is a legitimate company. Whether Henley and Partners has legal disputes in Malta has nothing to do with Joseph Calleja”.
Henley and Partners is the concessionaire for Malta’s cash for passports programme, which is the subject of controversy in the country since the Labour Party announced the scheme soon after it was elected to power in 2013. The sale of passports was never mentioned in the Party’s electoral programme.
Investigations by Malta’s anti-money laundering agency flagged allegations of corruption involving kickbacks to the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri.