The Passport Papers joint investigation by The Shift and other media partners, and coordinated by the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, has been shortlisted for the 2022 Investigative Journalism for Europe Impact Award.
As part of this collaborative project, The Shift revealed that 1,300 of the 2,325 applications to the program — which includes completed, terminated, withdrawn, and declined applications — came from Saudi Arabia, China and Russia, three countries which do not allow dual citizenship.
The leak also revealed that several individuals from countries where dual citizenship is illegal, or is only allowed through special permission, sent applications to multiple jurisdictions, including Malta, hoping that at least one country would accept them.
The Shift’s investigation found multiple examples of individuals, and in some cases entire families, who rented property on the island with the intent to fulfil the bare minimum requirement in the application process.
Leaked documents from Henley & Partners, Malta’s concessionaire for the citizenship through investment scheme, were provided to The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation by a whistle-blower, and were analysed by the consortium of national and international journalists and media platforms, with each newsroom handling a different area of the investigation and each producing its own original report.
The investigation took four months and was a collaboration between The Shift, The Times of Malta, Malta Today, The Malta Independent, Lovin Malta, The Guardian, The Dossier Center, and freelance journalist and filmmaker Safa al-Ahmad, and was coordinated by the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation.
Shortlisted for #IJ4EU Impact award: #PassportPapers, a joint investigation by @TheTimesofMalta @IndependentMlt@maltatoday @LovinMalta @TheShiftNews @guardian@dossier_center & @daphnefdtnhttps://t.co/0sTEtuyf6m https://t.co/OcIGmkE2Sy
— Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation (@daphnefdtn) March 3, 2022
Malta’s contentious cash-for-passports scheme is once again at the forefront of debate following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Six Maltese civil society organisations have urged the government to end the sale of passports to Russian elites “who have benefited from [President Vladimir] Putin’s corruption”. European Parliament President Robert Metsola, Opposition leader Bernard Grech and political party ADPD have made similar demands.
The Maltese government remained defiant in the face of these repeated calls, despite recent EU sanctions triggering a renewed drive to bring selling passports to a halt. It was forced to change its stance on Wednesday, when it announced that Malta has suspended applications fro Russian and Belorussian citizens. In a statement, it said “as a result of recent developments” due diligence checks cannot be carried out effectively.