Minister’s List of NGOs Raises Questions of Donations from Passport Buyers

Graziella Galea on donations of passport buyers

A parliamentary question tabled by opposition MP Graziella Galea regarding donations from passport buyers took an unexpected turn when Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri provided a reply that raised eyebrows. It was revealed that numerous NGOs had allegedly received minimum donations of €10,000 from potential passport buyers under the IIP program.

The media swiftly seized upon this information, going as far as insinuating hypocrisy on the part of some NGOs that had been vocal opponents of the Golden Passport Scheme.

The entire episode was surrounded by a sense of wrongdoing from the beginning. The minister’s eagerness to list potential recipients of funds under the passport scheme was concerning, particularly given the absence of clear criteria in the preparation of the list. Notably, the list did not follow alphabetical order and curiously began with NGOs like Repubblika and Moviment Graffitti, both of which had vehemently opposed the passport scheme.

Predictably, denials from the implicated NGOs quickly followed. Each organization refuted the claims, stating they had never “knowingly received” such donations. Moviment Graffitti went a step further, expressing its disinterest in donations associated with the “disgusting scheme.”

While the integrity of Repubblika and Graffitti is widely trusted, the mystery of the arbitrary list presented by Camilleri remains. What was his intention? If the NGOs’ denials hold true, disturbing conclusions can be drawn about the operations under the responsibility of the Home Affairs Minister.

The worst-case scenario is that the list is a complete fabrication, concocted to tarnish the reputation of civil society champions who have become thorns in the side of an embattled government. If proven, the only appropriate course of action would be the minister’s resignation.

Alternatively, even if the NGOs’ denials are accurate, heads should still roll. It is plausible that the names of various NGOs were suggested by representatives of oligarchs and affluent individuals navigating the passport application process. The oligarchs themselves would likely be unfamiliar with Repubblika, Graffitti, or other NGOs.

Given the resolute denials from the implicated NGOs, it is safe to assume that even if their names were listed as donation recipients, no funds were ever transferred. This aligns with the recurring flaunting of residency requirements, highlighting the incompetence of Maltese authorities in scrutinizing applicants. Minister Camilleri seemingly believed the names on the list were genuine, unwittingly exposing his own administration’s incompetence and potential corruption.

Malta’s government has repeatedly assured the EU that strict conditions are applied to the passport scheme, with thorough scrutiny of applicants. However, the European Commission remains unconvinced, leading to a case being opened against Malta in the Court of Justice of the European Union regarding the passport scheme.

The attempts by the government to intimidate civil society NGOs like Repubblika and Graffitti should not be underestimated. Such actions can only be seen as bullying tactics. It is worth recalling the recent assurances Prime Minister Abela made to the EU Justice Commissioner regarding the progress being made in Malta.


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