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‘Someone connected to the Maltese government bears responsibility for her death’

Dutch documentary sheds light on passport sales in Malta and related security concerns in Europe.

Matthew Caruana Galizia with his mother, journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia assassinated a year ago.

Matthew Caruana Galizia described the scene of his mother’s assassination in a documentary broadcast on Dutch public television last week: “I’ve never been to a battlefield, but that’s how I imagine it. Pieces of flesh, fire everywhere. Even the road was on fire.”

Caruana Galizia is convinced that someone connected to the Maltese government bears responsibility for her death. “I am convinced of that,” he said, “because all of my mothers’ investigations were aimed at senior government officials.”

Government workers continue to remove the flowers and candles left by citizens at the protest memorial for the journalist in Valletta on a regular basis. This was filmed and posted to Twitter on Friday night:

The documentary, ‘Passport Trade: Wealthy Foreigners Buy Citizenship in Malta’, was researching Malta’s controversial cash-for-passports scheme on which Daphne Caruana Galizia had reported extensively, linking the scheme to corruption at the highest levels of government.

The sale of citizenship was described in the documentary as “a gold mine out of thin air” for the Maltese government. The scheme grants individuals access to other EU countries without the need for visas or strict controls. They do need an address in Malta, but as the journalists attempted to locate a Russian ski jumper and another two billionaires at their residential address, they found an entirely different picture.

“What’s going on in Malta?” they asked, and they aren’t the only ones with this question. The European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe have all expressed concern.

In the documentary, the Dutch intelligence service (AIVD) also raised the alarm, pointing out “the risks of wealthy and powerful foreigners who buy into the EU and from that moment have all the rights that belong to EU citizenship.”

The AIVD told the journalists that, from a national security perspective, this was “worrying”.

But it isn’t just new Maltese citizens who are reaping the benefits of the scheme. Those at the centre of power in Malta are also cashing in, according to Matthew who spoke about allegations of kickbacks received by the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, that are the subject of a magisterial inquiry launched more than two years ago although nothing has been revealed.

The documentary also delved into the world of academic named Dimitry Kochenov, dubbed the Passport Professior, a consultant to Henley & Partners and the Maltese government.

Kochenov “participated in a Maltese delegation that defended the position on trade in passports against the European Commission with a mandate from the Maltese government,” the documentary showed.

A professor of EU Constitutional Law and Citizenship at the University of Groningen, Kochenov was also Chairman of the Investment Migration Council (IMC) in Geneva, the citizenship by investment industry’s association. When The Shift News visited its headquarters in Geneva, there was no sign of the association’s presence.

Henley & Partners, the concessionaires for the cash for passport scheme in Malta, is a founding member of the IMC and chairman Christian Kalin sits on its governing board. Kochenov created the Henley & Partners – Kochenov Quality of Nationality Index (QNI) that ranks the ‘quality’ of nationalities around the world.

The documentary revealed that the University of Groningen asked Kochenov to stop these lobbying activities at the beginning of 2019, concerned that the politically sensitive issue could jeopardise the university’s independence. When he did finally resign after nine months of pressure and questioning, he refused to explain his reasoning for doing so, according to the documentary.

Questions continue to be raised over the screening and due diligence procedures applied to cash-for-passport applicants in Malta. A number of new Maltese citizens have been arrested and charged with crimes in foreign jurisdictions, including fraud, money laundering and economic sabotage.

Identity Malta has said that Egyptian national Abdel Mustafa Wadood’s Maltese citizenship was being revoked after his arrest in the US, but the Agency insisted there was no need for a revision of due diligence procedures despite the additional arrests of Boris Mints, Liu Zhongtian, and Pavel Melnikov.

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