Marthese Portelli flags conflict of interest for Henley & Partner as company registration reveals Henley & Partner's involvement in IIP Malta Ltd.
Speakers from the Opposition benches this evening made their final pitch in urging the government to reconsider the requirements by which citizenship by naturalization will be granted.
The House of Representatives is set to take a vote on the Bill at around 6:30pm. Contrary to this morning, the majority of government MPs remained present in the Chamber since the start of this evening's session.
Parliament will reconvene tomorrow morning when the bill will be discussed at committee stage.
Nationalist MPs Paula Mifsud Bonnici, Carm Mifsud Bonnici, Claudio Grech, Stephen Spiteri and Marthese Portelli argued there was "no investment" in the Individual Investor Programme and reiterated that citizenship was being sold by the government.
The Opposition argued that the government didn't have the mandate to introduce such a scheme and reiterated their call for proper investment requirements.
Paula Mifsud Bonnici questioned what would happen if terrorists were to purchase Maltese passports and insisted that government shouldn't expose the country to unnecessary threats.
Carm Mifsud Bonnici said government was giving a price tag to everything, noting that "Malta's finances surely do not require such drastic measures for money collection".
He argued that the current naturalization process granted citizenship to foreigners who would have lived, invested and became part of Maltese society.
On his part, Grech noted that there had been very few laws which had been passed without the Opposition's consent.
"The government is still in time to address this issue. We are not here to give political advice but, when you consider what we are proposing, it would be worth taking on board some of these suggestions," Grech said.
Like previous speakers, Grech said that Malta should not mar its international positioning simply because government was in a hurry to implement the IIP.
He argued that if government were to consider the Opposition's suggestions, this would not reflect in a "climb-down" but increasing the programme's value and country's reputation.
Grech said the IIP should focus on investment attraction, expanding high-value industries, creation of quality jobs, long-term economic contribution and individuals ready to enter venture capital initiatives with Maltese enterprises.
Taking the floor, Marthese Portelli flagged "a conflict of interest" for Henley & Partner, the exclusive concessionaire for the IIP.
Henley CEO Eric Major said that IIP Malta Ltd will be involved in the due diligence process, after parliamentary secretary for justice Owen Bonnici said Henley & Partner's work was to promote and process applications for the IIP.
Portelli however said that, according to the MFSA's website, IIP Malta Ltd revealed that registered partners were Major, Michael Lucas and Henley & Partners Europe Ltd.
"And yet the government keeps denying any conflict of interest. How is this possible?" she said.