Passport sales trips for PM

The Prime Minister will be promoting the sale of Maltese passports during two key events organised by Henley & Partners in Dubai and Hong Kong.

Joseph Muscat and Keith Schembri with Henley president Chris Kalin.

Joseph Muscat and Keith Schembri with Henley president Chris Kalin.

The Prime Minister will be promoting the sale of Maltese passports during two key events organised by Henley & Partners in Dubai and Hong Kong.

Joseph Muscat is set to travel to the United Arab Emirates later this month to participate in a global citizenship seminar organised by Henley, the Maltese passport scheme’s concessionaire. He will be delivering a “special keynote speech” during the event, being held on October 25 at the Palace Hotel, one of the most luxurious properties in Dubai.

According to Henley & Partners, the seminar will focus on how affluent and talented individuals can acquire an additional passport through strategic investment.

Less than a month later, on November 14, Dr Muscat will address a global residence and citizenship conference, an annual event by Henley & Partners, in Hong Kong.

Around 500 delegates from around the world seeking more information on how to obtain a second passport through investment are expected to attend the Hong Kong event. Passport schemes offered mainly by Caribbean countries will be marketed during the two-day conference, though Portugal and Cyprus will also be promoting their programmes.

During his first term as Prime Minister, Dr Muscat participated in 11 conferences and seminars around the globe promoting Malta’s cash-for-passports scheme, officially known as the Individual Investor Programme, which was launched soon after Labour returned to government in 2013.

Henley & Partners have been given the concession to market the scheme abroad, with the contract binding senior members of the Maltese government to participate in sales promotions around the world.

Promotional events have been held in the United Kingdom, the United States, Singapore, Turkey, the UAE, Lebanon and Switzerland.

No replies were forthcoming when this newspaper asked the Office of the Prime Minister about the upcoming trips to Dubai and Hong Kong and whether the contract with Henley & Partners obliged Dr Muscat himself to participate personally in such activities.

According to the latest data given by the scheme’s regulator, there were 723 applicants and 1,186 dependents seeking a Maltese passport at the end of June.

The government does not publish the particulars of those acquiring a passport through the scheme, only their names.

A leaked report by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit raised suspicions about the possibility of the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, receiving kickbacks from the scheme. The government’s anti-money-laundering agency recommended that the police investigate further, but it cannot be ascertained whether this in fact happened.

Mr Schembri has denied any wrongdoing, and a magisterial inquiry into the matter, sparked by former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil, is ongoing.