Malta Tightens Money for Citizenship Rules

Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has passed a controversial money-for-citizeship law that he has now revised

Malta’s government will revise its controversial citizenship program and raise the price applicants have to pay to become Maltese – and by extension EU citizens – to  €1.15 million from  €650,000 euros.

The move comes after tough negotiations between the government and the opposition over the so-called Individual Investor Program.

Malta’s President George Abela signed the amended Citizenship Act on November 15. It allows investors who contribute a minimum of €650,000 to claim the Maltese citizenship, provided they meet due diligence criteria and pass a criminal background check.

Initially the government and opposition positions varied widely,  but in recent weeks, the two sides edged closer.

“Unfortunately, we did not reach an agreement with the opposition, despite coming very close,” said Joseph Muscat, Malta’s Prime Minister, while addressing a press conference on Monday evening.

But he said that the government had talked to all stakeholder, listened to the people’s concerns and took on board proposals made both by the opposition and stakeholder.

As a result, the government’s position changed drastically and was now presenting “a new program,” which he described as “attractive” saying that “the country will reap more benefits.”

The scheme,  which has been put on hold despite being approved by parliament, will now require applicants to pay more into the national fund and the consolidated fund; at least €350,000 for purchasing a property and no less than €150,000 for investment in government issued bonds or shares.

The government also decided that the scheme will be managed by the official agency Identity Malta – it will replace Henley and Partners, a private company.

The program will be capped at 1,800 successful applications.

– New Europe