Government’s chief ‘golden visa’ salesman sets up shop one month after leaving office

The real owner of his advisory firm is a Chinese citizen from Shanghai

 

The man who for three years led the government’s initiative to sell visa residency programmes to millionaires, set up his own consultancy firm to do just that –  a month after he left his government job – as a front for a business owned by an individual from Shanghai.

In January 2019, Roderick Cutajar, 50, from Zabbar, left his post as the CEO of the Malta Residency Visa Agency (MRVP). He then proceeded to sell citizenship and residency to clients, mainly from Russia, the Emirates, China and other non-European States, raising concerns about whether he profited from the advantage and information he had acquired while heading the programme.

Research conducted by The Shift shows that barely a month after leaving his government position, in February 2019, Cutajar had already set up Immvest International Ltd to start selling Maltese residency and citizenship schemes to millionaires, with a special emphasis on China. The real owner of his advisory firm is in fact Chinese, called Mao Haichun from Shanghai.

It is not unclear how Cutajar got to know his Chinese partner, although industry sources said the two had been collaborating since he was heading the government agency and met regularly in China during Cutajar’s several trips to the country funded by taxpayers due to the government position he held.

Roderick Cutajar with Sai Mizzi in Shanghai for the launch of the MRVP.

Cutajar also established a second company with Mao Haichun – Immvest Properties Ltd – targeting commissions from properties that clients are obliged to buy or rent in order to qualify for citizenship or residency.

Cutajar, who spent most of his working time in the previous three years jet setting around the world to lure ‘high net worth’ individuals to purchase Maltese residency programmes, had direct access to all the secret databases of the government agency. He could easily monitor the data of all the other agents who were seeking his permission to seal deals with their applicants.

One month after leaving the agency, Cutajar was competing with the other agencies he was servicing as a government employee just a few weeks earlier.

Licensed agents make tens of thousands in professional fees and commissions every time they have an application approved by the authorities.

While the government did not draw attention to Cutajar’s sudden departure, in what seems to be an exercise to keep the scandal under wraps, the same government agency immediately put Cutajar’s new firm on its agents’ list, giving it the right to submit applications on behalf of clients for Maltese residency and citizenship programmes.

An employee in human resources for a number of years, Cutajar was given directorships and government positions soon after the Labour Party was elected in 2013. He was also put on the ‘injustices’ board by the government, including for the Armed Forces of Malta.

Close to disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat, Cutajar was appointed CEO of the visa agency in 2016. In a sponsored interview on The Temple magazine last June – a publication owned by Josette Schembri Vella, the wife of the former OPM Chief of Staff Keith Schembri – Cutajar boasted of his agency’s ‘strongest asset’ being his setting up of Malta’s visa programme.

Earlier this week, the European Parliament approved a motion to abolish the cash for passport scheme, with particular reference to Malta that remains defiant despite infringement procedures.

                           
                               
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joe tedesco
joe tedesco
2 months ago

A PL GOVERNMENT MIRED IN CORRUPTION AND SLEAZE,
A DISGRACE TO THE MALTESE ISLANDS.

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  joe tedesco

Another day, another heist committed and facilitated by the untouchables.

What will it take for these people to be brought to justice?

JOHN CASSAR
1 month ago

Ma tghaddiex gurnata li ma jinkixiefx xi kaz gdid ta’ korruzzjoni. Tal-misthija

Sarah
Sarah
1 month ago

another of Malta’s blood suckers.

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