Beyond the legal compliance… (or the H&P leaks)

Stirlitz
from the famous Soviet movie – “Seventeen Moments of Spring”

When privacy is obsolete

What happened last week was more than yet another hit on the Maltese citizenship by investment program. The “Henley & Partners leaks” showed that we will all have to play by new rules from now on. We will have to accept that citizenship by investment candidates will need not only abide by the laws. They will also need to abide by the social expectations, no matter whether these are legally justified. And we will also need to accept that protection of one’s privacy is now a joke.

What is the Maltese precedent

Rich Russian and Chinese citizens are the largest groups who have applied for Maltese citizenship

It may be the “hate the rich” attitude that hit our colleagues from Henley & Partners. Or maybe it is the “blame it on the Russians and the Chinese”. Would we have seen such a massive information leak if the Russians and the Chinese were not the largest group of candidates for Maltese passports? We don’t know.

The investigation

What has happened is that the Passport Papers has made an investigation into the Maltese CIP. The main concern of the journalists from the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation are basically outlined in the article of BBC. The “Times of Malta” has also extensively covered the “investigation”.

The concern of the “investigators” is that the applicants for Maltese citizenship don’t live long enough on the island or that they are renting cheap accommodations. The applicants are being “accused” that they “meet the one-year residence requirement by renting empty properties“. We are certainly very old fashioned, but we still can’t figure out how can one rent a property that is not empty…

Malta Golden passport scandal
source: the Times of Malta

I don’t care what is the least expensive which complies w/program

Renting cheap – no way

Another “concern” of the investigating journalists is that other applicants have requested the least expensive rental option that would fulfil the demands of the application process. Another hard one for us, the oldtimers. Is the problem that the applicants want the cheapest option or that they want to be compliant with the program?

Establishing a link with the country – more important than ever

true love soviet movie
Another famous saying from an old Soviet movie. This one we won’t even try to translate however.

Basically, what the investigating journalists are ultimately trying to imply is that the candidates have not established solid link with Malta. It appeared that many of the candidates were visiting the island just briefly, only to comply with the requirements (again?). And instead of staying full time on the island for a whole year (reminds us of Alexandre Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo ordeals), they have chosen to make a donation to a charity fund.

Indeed, a citizenship in general is based on solid link with certain country. But isn’t citizenship by investment meant to be different? Isn’t it meant to be less “demanding” in return of meeting the investment requirements and the contribution to the country’s economy?

The implications of the Malta leaks for our clients for Bulgarian citizenship by investment

We have been advocating since very long time that all applicants for Bulgarian investment citizenship should ensure 100% waterproof residential address in Bulgaria. After the scandal in Malta with Henley & Partners, this requirement will need to be met with much more attention. As Bulgaria revamped its program only a month ago, it is now making utmost effort to keep it sustainable on the long term. In this respect, the Bulgarian authorities will try to stay clear off any potential pitfalls that may endanger the program in front of the European Commission.

Contact us immediately if your Bulgarian address is not verified

From now on, having residential address in Bulgaria (while on permanent residence status) that has been not verified by us, will be considered as serious risk to the final outcome of your application. If this is your situation, we urge you to contact us immediately for evaluation of the available options.

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