in

No presence of cash-for-passports lobby group IMC at Geneva HQ

Investment migration Council Office Geneva
The registered office for the IMC in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Investment Migration Council (IMC) has not explained why there was no sign of its presence at their registered head office in Geneva, Switzerland.

Photos recently taken at their listed address at 16, Rue Maunoir in Geneva, show the floors occupied mostly by medical practitioners, as well as other entities, but there was no sign of the IMC even though it is registered under Swiss law and lists its registered base in Geneva at that address.

IMC contact

The IMC is a citizenship-by-investment association and lobbying group. The Shift News reported on Sunday that the IMC spent €10,000 last year on lobbying in Brussels, and has budgeted €610,000 for annual lobbying costs on cash-for-passport programmes, according to the EU transparency register.

The register also shows that Henley & Partners spent another €300,000 on lobbying.

Questions sent to the international arm of the organisation on its registered office and its lobbying budget were acknowledged by IMC chief executive Bruno L’Ecuyer, formerly the head of business development of Finance Malta.

He offered to meet in Malta “to explain how the IMC works”, even though he is listed as the CEO based in Switzerland. No reply was received to written questions sent.

IMC office signs Geneva
Listed occupants in the building where the IMC is registered.

The IMC was set up in 2014 by stakeholders within the field “to give the industry a voice” and “to improve public understanding”. In addition, the stated aim of the IMC is to “set the standards on a global level” for the sale of citizenship and residency.

Henley & Partners are a founding member and chairman Christian Kalin sits on its governing board. So does Dimitry Kochenov, the creator of the Henley & Partners ‘Kochenov Quality of Nationality Index’, which he says he developed with Kalin.

Henley & Partners said it could not speak on behalf of the IMC, which it insists is a separate entity.

“Christian Kälin is, as the representative of the leading firm in the field, one of the members of IMC’s governing board, which is diverse both geographically and corporately,” a spokesman for Henley & Partners told The Shift News.

Henley & Partners membership base IMC
The IMC’s membership base. Source: The IMC’s directory of members.

The IMC was set up in 2014. Apart from Henley & Partners, other founding members include London law firm Mishcon de Reya Solicitors accused of having “threatened and harassed” and “seeking to financially cripple” assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, by her three sons.

A month before her death in a car bomb a few metres outside her home, Caruana Galizia had written: “Mischon de Reya…is the very same London law firm which Henley & Partners, in association with Malta’s crooked Prime Minister and his bent chief of staff, uses to intimidate journalists and other critics into silence”.

International audit firm KPMG is also a founding member. The firm was involved in helping Pilatus Bank get its license in Malta. KPMG audited the bank and it was commissioned to prepare a counter report for the bank against suspicions of money-laundering flagged by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU).This is documented in a number of reports, including that by MEPs investigating the rule of law in Malta and the firm’s audit of the bank.

The global cash-for-passports industry is worth over $3 billion dollars, and Henley & Partners is one of the biggest players around the world.

To suggest that IMC is a “marketing and lobbying tool for the industry, specifically Henley & Partners, is untenable,” the firm said.

Read more: Henley & Partners spent up to €300,000 on lobbying the EU last year

Calls for investigation of Fisheries Department following bribery allegations

Yorgen Fenech named as owner of gaming company involved in ‘criminal network’