Individual Investor Programme
Faced by political and socio-economic instability in their countries, a growing number of wealthy private individuals are looking at investment migration as a way of giving themselves, and their immediate family members, the opportunity to live a better life in a more stable environment.
Nowadays, more high net worth individuals are seriously weighing their options of resorting to investment migration in order to expand their business interests.
This created an economic niche for citizenship by investment programmes. Countries like Malta, which took this opportunity, are attracting a wealth of talent and economic prosperity.
Yet, despite this win-win situation these programmes attract their fair share of criticism. When Malta initiated the Individual Investor Programme, some criticised what was only viewed as the commoditisation of citizenship, but it is safe to say that for Malta, the IIP has been much more than that.
We took up this challenge and turned it into an opportunity, by designing a programme that is intended to take Malta to the world, to expand our horizons and bring to Malta people not only willing to invest, but who believe in our potential despite the fact that we are a small island nation.
To be eligible for Maltese citizenship under the Individual Investor Programme of the Republic of Malta, applicants must:
- make a contribution of €650,000 to the Maltese Government, which is deposited in the National Development Funds;
- lease property in Malta for a minimum value of €16,000 per annum, or purchase property for a minimum value of €350,000; and
- acquire €150,000 worth of Government Bonds or bonds/ securities listed on the Malta Stock Exchange.
The property and the bonds/ securities have to be held by the main applicant for a minimum period of 5 years.
The Individual Investor Programme is under continuous scrutiny from the Regulator – an independent body who monitors the programme and ensures that the right processes and procedures are stringently implemented in all areas of the Agency’s operations at all times.
The Regulator, appointed by the Prime Minister after consultation with the Opposition Leader, has the right to access all Individual Investor Programme documents or information in full, as required, without any exception and at any moment in time. Additionally, the powers of the Regulator include the investigation of complaints about the IIP in the manner as prescribed under the Maltese Citizenship Act, the outcome of which is presented to the Minister responsible for Citizenship for his/her respective consideration.
The Regulator tables an annual report to the House of Representatives highlighting what was carried out during the previous 12 months whilst also putting forward suggestions on how to improve the programme. The report is first discussed during a dedicated bi-partisan Monitoring Committee that meets at least once a year. This Committee is composed of the Prime Minister, the Opposition Leader and the Minister responsible for Citizenship. The latest report of this sort was published in 2017.
The Individual Investor Programme of the Republic of Malta is regulated by the Maltese Citizenship Act (CAP. 188) and the Individual Investor Programme of the Republic of Malta Regulations, 2014 (L.N. 47 of 2014).
Successful applicants who meet all the required criteria are granted citizenship by a certificate of naturalization for them and their families in return for the contribution to the economic development of Malta, as provided in these regulations.
It is all too easy to fall for the temptation of the low hanging fruit, but such an attitude does not sit well with the country’s vision and ambition for the programme. Malta adopts a very stringent due diligence process in order to make sure that only reputable applicants are admitted to its exclusive citizenship programme. Experience has shown that most of the applicants were not the headline grabbers, known people. Most of the time they would fit the profile of being hardworking, self-made individuals, who have a strong global network.
The application process to acquire Maltese Citizenship is very stringent; taking around 12 months to complete. It starts with the submission of an e-Residence Application and ends with the issuance of a certification of naturalisation. Throughout that process, the Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency gives due consideration to every element of the application process, with a particular focus on due diligence. The due diligence team goes at lengths to ask the right questions and look beyond the surface.
Due Diligence Process
The rigorous due diligence process we employ is the cornerstone of our success. Yet we need to keep advocating transparency and good governance in the way we administer the programmes. Our sales pitch is not oriented at whoever wants a citizenship of our young but proud country. It is intended only to those who know that there will be thorough scrutiny, yet once the door is opened, all the advantages of being Maltese, and European.
Maintaining the integrity of the economic citizenship programmes is mandatory. Ultimately, this is what every citizen wants, what every nation wants and what every applicant of high moral standards wants. Individuals will not feel at ease knowing that their own personal safety is compromised, or that they cannot do business properly. It benefits us, but it also benefits the applicant. An application gone wrong can jeopardise the whole industry.