Malta’s Citizenship By Investment Program Nets €1 Billion In Two Years

In case readers at missed it, the latest must-have tool in the business mogul’s toolbox is a second passport to a country whose links are beneficial in specific ways for the new owner. This is Citizenship By Investment.

Businesspeople from the Middle East, Africa and Asia seek to obtain citizenship to an E.U. country, as it offers them vastly more travel and work opportunities. Western business people from the E.U. and the U.S. – already used to that level of freedom – instead choose passports to the Caribbean Islands, where the banks are discreet and the taxes are miniscule.

When Malta announced its intentions of launching its own Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program in 2012, it was frowned upon by some quarters of the European Union and judged with utter suspicion and distrust by MEPs in Brussels. Now, just over two years after launching an amended CBI program, Malta is seemingly having the last laugh – all the way to the bank.

€1 Billion And Counting

Malta’s CBI program has already netted the tiny country a whopping €1 billion, the same figure that is allotted them from the E.U over seven years. This figure is likely to swell in the coming years, and will be further bolstered by the continued investment and spending in Malta that these new and extremely wealthy citizens are sure to bring.

Malta business building and citizenship by investment.
Malta business building and citizenship by investment.

So, if you have a spare €1.2 million to invest in a pretty island in the Mediterranean and you are happy to maintain your investment for a minimum of five years you can apply to become the proud owner of one of the 1,800 passports Malta has set aside for its Citizenship by Investment program. Thus far, successful applicants have come from the Middle East, China, Russia, South Africa and the USA.

What Exactly Is Citizenship By Investment?

Citizenship by Investment is the practice of countries providing citizenship and a passport to serious investors – providing the investors pass stringent background security checks – i.e., they are not international criminals or terrorists. Often, the countries in question want far more than just hard cash for their citizenship, they want a commitment from the investor by way of a period of residency, a minimum length of ownership of an investment, and even in the cases of the UK and Russia, a strong grasp of the language.

CBI comes in many shapes and forms, and is more subtly done by some countries – the UK, Germany and USA for example, and more in-your-face in others – Greece, Hungary and Cyprus to name but three. It originated in the Caribbean where St Kitts and Nevis began the first program back in 1984, and other islands like Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda and St Lucia have also opened their own CBI programs.

Is CBI 100% Criminal Proof?

All countries that provide a Citizenship by Investment program are duty bound to do stringent and thorough background checks on all applicants, and it is in their best interest to do so. If a country was proven to have allowed a terrorist to earn an E.U. passport through their CBI program, they would literally face the wrath of the free world, their CBI program would be eradicated and they would potentially lose billions of euros in revenue, all for sloppy due diligence.

So while nothing is 100% safe, it is virtually impossible for an individual with a criminal past or terrorist links to bluff their way into an E.U. passport.

What Does Malta Offer Investors?

Malta is a beautiful little island off the Italian coast, full of the warmest, bravest, most spirited people you could ever want to meet. Tiny Malta repelled the Third Reich during World War II, and the whole island was awarded the George Cross – the civilian equivalent of the Victoria Cross – by the British Government for their efforts, the only time in history that has happened.

All that said, it’s not the sea, sunshine, good food and friendly locals that is attracting wannabe-billionaires from the Middle East and China to spend €1.2 million on Maltese citizenship. It is the fact that Malta is an E.U. and British Commonwealth nation that is so appealing. As an E.U. citizen, one is suddenly free to travel visa-free to 168 countries world-wide, including North, Central and South America, Western Europe, South-East Asia and Australasia.

Having to apply for a visa every time you want to travel is a bit like the police searching your house each time you want to go to the shops; even though you’ve got nothing to hide, it’s inconvenient, time consuming and soul-destroying. When countries ask for visas from citizens of other countries, they are in effect saying “we recognize your country as a criminal state, now prove to us you aren’t a criminal!” No wonder the market for second citizenship is escalating.

An E.U. passport also grants its owner the right to live and work anywhere within Western Europe, including the UK… for now. However, even if Brexit does take place and the UK votes to leave Europe, as a Maltese – and British Commonwealth – citizen, you will still have the right to live and work in the UK for as long as you wish.

Citizenship by investment has been a big benefit for Malta and its citizens already. They will need to be careful who they allow in because not everyone will play by their rules.

handshake. Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay
handshake. Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay
Anne Lawson
Anne Lawson is a British writer who keeps her eye on business and trending issues that affect us all. She loves to delve into the real story and give us interesting tidbits we might otherwise miss.