Why this story matters:
An investigation by Malta Today found that about half of the 2,000 names on a recently-released list of naturalized citizens who bought their way to becoming Maltese were from Russia and Gulf states.
Among them are:
- Alexey Alexandrovich Marey, the former CEO of Alfa Bank Russia, the country’s largest private bank by assets.
- Dragan Solak, the executive chairman of the United Media Group – one of the largest telecommunications groups in the Balkans
- Leonid Viktoryvich Korotkov, a member of Russia’s Communist Party and former governor of Amur Oblast in Siberia.
- Dmitry Vladimirovich Semenikhin, a 21-year-old Russian writer and founder of Yacht Harbour media holding.
- Roman Evgenievich Trushev, the chairman of Petroneft, a Russian-based oil and gas exploration and production company.
- Saudi policy advisor Faisal Alibrahim.
Unlike Latvia or Cyprus, Malta grants full and immediate citizenship to investors complying with the requirements of the Individual Investor Program. They can, accordingly, use all EU citizenship rights, including international travel.
According to Politico, critics charge that the program undermines the concept of European citizenship, poses potential security risks and opens a backdoor for Russians seeking to escape sanctions in their own country. But a Yemeni woman said the cash-for-passport scheme saved her family from war, according to the BBC.
Meanwhile, the government refuses to grant Maltese citizenship to stateless children born to migrant parents in Malta.
Details from the story:
- Individuals obtaining citizenship by investment are not required to reside in Malta.
- Although the government claims that the program is open to individuals with a spotless reputation only, the list includes some controversial individuals.
- While the names of those who received a Maltese passport are published yearly, they are mixed with persons who received their citizenship on other grounds. The government claims that singling passport buyers out would be discriminatory.
- Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has promoted the program in Dubai.