Individuals close to the Labour Party and the government have secured seats on boards that monitor and evaluate visa, residency and citizenship applications.
Information published in the Government Gazette this week features a long list of familiar names sitting on the board of the Malta Individual Investment Programme Agency, also known as the cash for passport scheme, and other agencies.
Anita Alosio, former partner at Brian Tonna’s Nexia BT, was appointed chairperson of the IIP Agency Board. She will be joining Sharon Mifsud, a Labour ‘LEAD’ alumna and the partner of Alfred Mifsud, former Labour Party TV chairman and now a director on the Board of BOV.
The list also includes Sarah Agius Saliba, an employee with Ian Borg’s Ministry and the wife of Labour Party MEP Alex Agius Saliba, as well as Nadette Azzopardi, wife of Frederick Azzopardi.
Azzopardi earlier sat on the Building Industry Consultative Council as well as the Children and Young Persons Advisory Board under the Ministry for Family. This latter board was previously headed by the mother of Minister Chris Fearne.
Other familiar faces also appear on the Identity Malta Board.
Former CEO of Malta Enterprise Mario Galea is chairman of the board. Reports have suggested that while at Malta Enterprise, Galea had “suppressed” a complaint from a whistleblower who alleged that the secretary of Malta Enterprise’s board had edited minutes of the investment committee.
It was also under Galea’s chairmanship that a controversial MOU for the takeover of Maltese hospitals was sealed.
Galea will be joining Diane Izzo, who qualified by holding a “diploma in marketing and professional sales”. Izzo is the wife of Karl Izzo, the ambassador to Montenegro, the birthplace of a dirty energy deal sealed by disgraced Minister Konrad Mizzi. The couple owns the Dizz brand and are close friends of Joseph and Michelle Muscat with Diane recently acting as one of the Muscat twins’ godmother (for her Confirmation).
Estate agent Andrew Agius Muscat is also on the board, together with the Head of Labour’s ONE Radio DJ Clint Bajada, another holder of a diploma in marketing.
George Arrigo, the vice-consul to Finland, also appears on the board. His colleague, Michael Zammit Tabona, was forced to step down as ambassador after comparing Angela Merkel to Hitler.
Also, Chief Financial Officer at Projects Malta, Ruben Schembri, is secretary to the board.
The Malta Residency Visa Agency Approval Board, the agency in charge of the “golden visa” scheme, is another platform made up of close government and Labour Party associates.
Notary Cory Greenland, the chairman of the board, was previously a senior General Workers Union official.
The other members are Ruth Micallef and Roderick Spiteri, a former Labour Party Mayor of Paola.
John Valencia, a former Projects Malta official, is also on the board. James Piscopo is the board secretary.
A second Residency Visa Agency approval board is chaired by Maruska Buttigieg Gili. She is joined by the editor of it-Torca Victor Vella, along with Carmelo Sammut.
Silvana Sammut, who is also secretary of the Welfare Committee, is the board’s secretary.
The Citizenship by Merit board similarly lists numerous familiar names.
It is chaired by Alexandra Mizzi, the daughter of former Labour Party MEP Marlene Mizzi. She is joined by the wife of Labour pollster Vincent Marmara, Danika, and former One sports reporter Antvin Monseigneur. His LinkedIn profile also lists him as a senior manager at the Lands Authority.
Ludovico Micallef, an architect who sat on one of the two appeals boards set up in 2013 at what was then known as MEPA (now the Planning Authority) and Professor Raymond Mangion are also on the board.
While Mangion is perhaps best known for his historical research (with a particularly rose-tinted view of the Mintoff years), the 2019 Gieh ir-Repubblika recipient also acted as canvasser and agent for a Labour MEP candidate in 2019. Mangion was also recently appointed as chairperson for the national archives, chair of the Academic Committee of the Academy for Disciplined Forces and a member of the Arts Council Malta Board.
All of these appointees will remain on these boards until 2023, according to the Government Gazette.
These boards hold significant importance, as they monitor applications on which citizenship, residency and visas are granted or refused. Most of these individuals have no experience in the sector.