14 Jul 2020
A total of 58 foreign nationals bought a Maltese passport without presenting their birth certificate in just 18 months, opposition MP Karol Aquilina is claiming.
“This is further testament to the fake due diligence of this programme which is tarnishing Malta’s reputation,” he said.
Aquilina divulged this “scandal” in parliament on Monday during a debate on the amendments to the Citizenship Act, which will pave the way for the new citizenship programme scheme.
He noted that the opposition was against the sale of citizenship in principle as this was attracting shady individuals involved in money laundering, fraud, tax evasion and criminal organisations.
Moreover, the names of the successful applicants were not being published separately but together with thousands of others who gained citizenship through naturalisation.
Aquilina said that despite government’s assurances that applicants were being vetted through a rigorous due diligence process, there had been various individuals who were granted citizenship while they were involved in criminal activity.
“This due diligence is fake as I am informed that in just 18 months 58 applicants bought a Maltese passport despite not presenting a birth certificate,” Aquilina said.
“What sort of scrutiny are the authorities carrying out if they are not even able to verify the date of birth of applicants?” he questioned.
The MP said that if the government was so keen to retain this scheme, the level of scrutiny should be tightened. This could be done by publishing the names of all those applying for Maltese citizenship to make it easier to flag any suspicious applicants.
The opposition, he said, would support the government were it to decide to scrap the programme.
“We would be ready to sit down and propose new streams of revenue to replace the sale of passports,” he said.
‘Birth certificate not only means to identify applicants’
Winding up, Citizenship Parliamentary Secretary Alex Muscat insisted that there were other ways and means to identify an applicant apart from the birth certificate. Moreover, countries such as China and Saudi Arabia did not issue birth certificates up to a few decades ago.
By Keith Micallef, The Times of Malta, 13 July 2020
Read more at The Times of Malta
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