Police investigate fresh claims of corruption at Identity Malta

The economic crimes unit of the Malta police force is investigating new claims about a system of illegal commissions at Identity Malta in relation to the government’s controversial cash for passports scheme, The Shift has learned.

According to the claims flagged to the police and other public individuals, between 2015 and 2018 senior officials at Identity Malta were passing internal details about wealthy foreigners who had applied to acquire a Maltese passport to a particular real estate agency.

Through this information, estate agents were put in contact with the prospective passport buyers to sell or lease to them high-value properties all over the island. 

In exchange, the same senior officials at Identity Malta were allegedly being paid tens of thousands of euros in commissions whenever such a sale or lease agreement was signed. To avoid drawing attention to the movement of these funds, it seems the officials involved re-invested these commissions in other properties and bonds, thus avoiding the banking system.

A spokesman for the police confirmed that these claims have been received and are being investigated thoroughly. It is not yet known if the police have made any progress on the leads, which include details of all the officials involved and the estate agents included in the scheme.

According to the cash-for-passports programme, introduced by Labour in 2013, non-EU citizens were given the opportunity to acquire a Maltese passport against payment. As part of the rules, those applying for such a scheme, mostly Chinese, Russian, and Saudi millionaires, had to show real connection to Malta, either by buying property of over €350,000 or by signing a lease contract of over €16,000 a year.

Police sources told The Shift that the allegations concern a particular three-year period, between 2015 and 2018, when Identity Malta senior officials allegedly doubled as brokers (sensara) in the lucrative property deals.

“Obviously by having first-hand information of those net-worth individuals looking around for high-end property in Malta made them very ‘popular’ with estate agents,” the police source said. “If this is proved to be the case, as we are still investigating, Identity Malta officials would have acted illegally and will have to face the consequences.”

At the time, the government agency was led by Executive Chairman Joe Vella Bonnici, an unsuccessful Labour candidate who had been put in charge of the cash-for-passports scheme, residence and work permits by disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat.

Joe Vella Bonnici was Executive Chairman between 2015 and 2018

Since its inception in 2013, Identity Malta had been plagued by claims of alleged corruption and sleaze in relation to the selling of passports as well as the issuing of visas and work permits.

In 2015 the police uncovered a racket in which thousands of visas and residence permits were issued fraudulently, mainly to Libyans and Russians. At the time, several employees of Identity Malta were arrested in a wide-ranging investigation and a former Labour candidate and accountant, Joe Sammut, was arraigned and is still facing criminal charges.

In 2018, Identity Malta was completely rebranded and split into three different agencies while Vella Bonnici was silently moved out of office and replaced by Labour candidate Ian Castaldi Paris. The latter was subsequently not reappointed after he was involved in tax investigations over his alleged undeclared wealth.

                           
                               
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makjavel
makjavel
15 days ago

These also issue citizenship to persons who end up voting in the local elections?

viv
viv
15 days ago

Looks like there are Agent Grifts all over The Maltrix

N Scerri
N Scerri
15 days ago

About time.Persistent rumours of rent being paid to certain contractors for properties still not built through Identity Malta staff and keys to rented properties bein held by IM employees.

joseph
joseph
15 days ago

The majority of the electorate in the last elections voted labour again and told them “Continue, we are happy”

N Scerri
N Scerri
14 days ago
Reply to  joseph

And many abstained fully aware that this will only help corrupt Labour stay in power.

J. Kerr
J. Kerr
15 days ago

The President has just launched a national survey which aims to understand Maltese society! Need one say more!

carlo
carlo
14 days ago
Reply to  J. Kerr

there’s no need of a national survey – mafia land run by mafia bosses to the detriment of the honest citizens. the president had supported conrot mizzi whilst being an mp. SO?…………………….

S.Borg
S.Borg
15 days ago

An Identity full of 🐀 rats.

James
James
15 days ago

Yet another police investigation which like every single one since the Panama Papers will come to nothing.

If Joe Sammut was investigated in 2015 and some 7 years later is still only facing criminal charges, when he should either have been prosecuted or had the charges dropped, what does that say about the Maltese judiciary system?

It’s farcical!

KLAUS
KLAUS
14 days ago

2032 – 10 Years later:
Police is still investigating fresh claims of corruption at Identity Malta.

Godfrey Leone Ganado
14 days ago

As I said many times, we need to reintroduce the annual declaration of capital assets. This would be another tool to catch the tax dodgers. Not to make it too cumbersome, it could be operated on a staggered basis, with intervals of three years.
This should not just include immovable property and investments, but also boats and cars over a specified value. Immovable property should be backed up by public registry searches updated annually.

carlo
carlo
14 days ago

that would be the day. no hope for this rock as long as it’s run by a corrupt government.

carlo
carlo
14 days ago

Being run by j vella bonnici NOTHING will happen as he’s one of the distrusted people of trust by the muvument korrott. greed and corruption reigns in this mafia land.

joe tedesco
joe tedesco
13 days ago

CORRUPTION AND SLEAZE EVERYWHERE AND FOR THE
ABSOLUTE MAJORITY OF THE ELECTORATE THAT VOTED
FOR A PL GOVERNMENT THERE IS NOTHING WRONG.
TRULY AND REALLY A PL GOVERNMENT IS ANATHEMA TO MALTA.

Watcher of the road
Watcher of the road
9 days ago

When Joseph Muscat soon after coming to power revealed his secretive plan to sell Maltese passports to foreign multi-millionaires whose identity was to remain a secret until eternity, I had immediately recognised how he had planned to finance his excesses and corruption while doodling on his opposition leader’s desk and that his party was going to be so rich that he would be able to buy any person in Malta who as ready to be bought. His sidekick Keith Schembri, was the brains behind most of the planned corruption and the methodology behind it. He was the man pulling the ropes from behind the stage curtain. The revelations of massive corruption that were triggered by that indefatigable investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia included the involvement of Joe Vella Bonnici’s, as a property middleman in the sale or renting of property to the new multi-millionaire Maltese ‘citizens’.

Considering that most of the passport applicants were, are, corrupt persons who had made their millions from corrupt or shady businesses, it can be safely assumed that they would corrupt anyone in Malta to achieve their aim of EU citizenship ad all that comes with it. These multi-millionaires did not only grease a few hands at Identity Malta. The brown envelopes reached the very top of the Mafia pyramid, including Labour’s hate machine aka ONE Productions.

The result of the latest election and the fallout within the PN party is highly indicative that the PN has been compromised, with the 2022 election outcome being exactly what the PL would have dreamt of: the removal of the anti-corruption lobby within the PN party. Today, Jason Azzopardi is out, Adrian Delia elected from two districts, Carol Aquilina nearly failed to be elected while Chris Said is side-lined by the PN leader.

Corruption issues have now been downgraded to the PN’s bottom check-box of its t-do list. If this does not mean the PN’s total compliance with the corrupt PL Mafia, then I don’t know what compliance means.

The PL now has every Maltese institution under its control, including the PN and therefore the opposition. Putinism is alive and kicking in Malta.

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