Former Identity Malta Chairman Joe Vella Bonnici is now selling Maltese passports and residency visas with Charlon Gouder, The Shift can report.
Vella Bonnici was quietly removed from his role at Identity Malta a few years ago amid police investigations into hundreds of allegedly fraudulent visas and corruption claims, while Gouder is a lawyer for disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat.
Through a company registered in 2018 called Destination Europe Ltd, the Labour insiders are promoting themselves as the brains behind the new immigration business company “which has assisted thousands of investors from all over the world to obtain residency and citizenship in Malta”.
But while the pair present themselves as the only two members of the company’s team, and boast about their contacts at Identity Malta and other government agencies responsible for the actual selling of passports and visas, they are not the company’s shareholders.
According to the Malta Business Registry’s records, the company fronted by Vella Bonnici and Gouder is owned by the holder of an Austrian passport, Josef Friedrich Santin, who is registered as living in Cyprus.
The company’s secretary is Gao Mao, a Chinese citizen living in Gzira.
Although Vella Bonnici and Gouder appear to be the company’s employees, the only person licenced by Identity Malta to act as an agent on Destination Europe’s behalf is Gouder himself.
Sources close to Identity Malta have informed The Shift that Vella Bonnici and Gouder have been operating in this capacity for several years even though their conflicts of interest have been flagged several times to the authorities, particularly by rival companies.
The Shift is informed that since Vella Bonnici was the executive chairman of Identity Malta for years and Gouder served as a government-paid advisor to the agency that issues visas, now named Residency Malta, they have inside information and contacts that give them an unparalleled advantage over their competitors.
The Shift reported last year how the police were investigating serious claims of corruption at Identity Malta during Vella Bonnici’s time at the helm.
The police confirmed they were investigating individuals at Identity Malta who were accused of passing along information about future passport buyers seeking to buy or rent high-end properties in Malta to specific real estate agencies.
According to the claims, these senior Identity Malta officials were being paid tens of thousands of euros in commissions. No one has yet been arraigned in court.
Charlon Gouder, who still presents a programme on Labour’s ONE TV and has numerous government-related jobs and consultancies, was also given a number of contracts as an advisor to Residency Malta. He also acted as an advisor to CEO Charles Mizzi on visa-related issues between 2018 and 2021.
The Shift reported how Gouder was also playing a role in the importation of cheap labour from Nepal through the Ozo Group, a private human resources company that receives many direct orders from government agencies. He is also the CEO of the association of local tuna ranchers, who employ hundreds of third-country nationals on paltry terms.
In late 2017, Gouder put his signature to a contract between the Ozo Group and a Nepalese employment agency for some 350 workers to be flown to Malta for different jobs.
Despite his signature and lawyer’s stamp being on the documents published by The Shift, Gouder refused to explain his role. Instead, he denied being a second party to any agreement on the importation of Nepalese workers. When shown his signatures on the documents obtained by The Shift and asked whether they had been forged, Gouder did not reply.
The other signature on the document was that of Ozo chairman Mario Muscat, who also declined to comment.
Based in Qormi, the Ozo Group is one of the leading Maltese agencies specialising in the importation of workers from other countries. The agency is owned by Muscat and the three brothers behind the Fortina Group – Adrian, Julian, and Michael Zammit Tabona – sit on the company’s board of directors.
dawn in-nies ghajjewni…….
Ma kull fejn tmiss tispicca ixxomm l-intiena
Ms. Metsola, should look at the corruption present in her country and not scold other states which are not even European
True! One would do well to help clean up the mess in one’s own home before criticising the state of others’. So far the EU has been a colossal disappointment in the protection of our rights to a normal life.
Not so many years ago the PL used to scare us that by joining the EU we would lose our sovereignty.
Now we want the EU to intrude on Malta government’s decisions (or lack of) when solutions happen to be in our own backyard!!
If Maltese citizens themselves don’t exercise their rights in order to correct obvious problems why would the EU and particularly the President of the EP, namely Roberta Metsola?
This is a classical case of ‘you can take the horse to the fountain, but you can make him drink’!?
Charlon Gouder is evidently a man of many talents, all of which he keeps well-hidden.
Hlief meta serqulu l wallet
Milli jidher xtara iehor, ikbar u ehxen!!
How long do the Police really need to investigate and arraign someone?
They managed to arraign Mark Camilleri in 24 hours when all he was doing was to prove that the complainant was being economical with the truth.
These so- called investigations just drag on forever whenever there are PEPs implicated and it happens so often it cannot be passed off as coincidence any longer.
But in Malta anything is possible as long as your “ friends” can be relied upon to cover up your tracks.
Alla jaf kemm eluf ghamlu nies ta Identity Malta minn tixhim tal bejgh tal passaporti.Kont tisma stejjer ta blokok lanqas inbnew diga earmarked ggal dawn li ha jixtru l passaport u nies ta Identity Mslta izommu c cwievet ta appartamenti li suppost fihom qed joqoghdu dawn il barranin.Waqt li Byron jippriedka fuq traffikar ta immigranti mil Libya ta min jinvestiga x qed jigri fl impurtar ta haddiema min Nepalbu Indja.Min jaf kemm hawn min bhal fil kaz tal bejgh tal passaporti,qed jaghmel rluf minn fuq dawn il haddiema.
As Rosianne Cutajar said: everybody is Pigging, not only politicians but also those close to government!!! It’s like a competition, who gets richer more quickly!!!!
It’s about time EU stops the selling of the European passport!
This agency is a farce. Recently moved house and need to provide evidence that I have been in Malta for 6 months, previous residence card was not proof enough, nor were 6 months of pay slips. I have lived and worked in Malta for 10 years, maybe I should have bribed someone to get a new card.
The Bonnici’s father and son are both friends with the PM’s wife they will eventually get what they ask for!