Covid-19 did have an impact, but Malta has healthy pipeline of applications, says Mr. Jonathan Cardona, CEO of Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency.

Mr. Jonathan Cardona argues that the COVID-19 has had an obvious effect on citizenship and residence by investment programmes due to the closure of both air and sea ports so individuals cannot travel, but they do have a healthy pipeline of applications.

The CEO of Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency articulates that despite the current global pandemic, the Agency is planning to provide a bit of flexibility with timelines and deadlines for providing documents however since Malta does not have the philosophy of cutting corners, the Agency will certainly not compromise on high standards.

He says that ‘’In today’s world, one of the major challenges is sifting between fact and fiction, and whilst we have to be strict, we also have to be fair with the families who apply.’’

Mr. Cardona, then delves into the process of vetting of applications which have a strict approach and that the MIIP are selective as to maintain high quality. He highlights that Malta has the best due diligence systems in the industry and that each application goes through several processes. He explains apart from the applicant’s visa being vetted through the VIS OR SIS systems; the applicant has to apply for a residence card which its process involves a law enforcement check including vetting against databases of international police agencies.

Mr. Jonathan Cardona states that the thorough due diligence service providers, perform a deep analysis, including boots on the ground checks and cross referencing. They take into account different cultures, different ways of doing business, family ties, and language and dialect variations.

He says that ‘’In today’s world, one of the major challenges is sifting between fact and fiction, and whilst we have to be strict, we also have to be fair with the families who apply.’’

He further highlights how every application is dissected in seven categories which are the identification and verification process, business and corporate affiliations, politically exposed persons, the applicant’s wealth and reputation. The sixth category focuses on legal and regulatory matters with incremental risk factors based on any charges or convictions for criminal or civil offences, and the seventh category consists of an analysis of the MA’s activities and the relative impact on the MA’s immediate network and society in general which is conducted by the CBI industry.

He also points out that once the due diligence officer reviews all the data and prepares the report with the finding on the application, it is first reviewed internally, to ensure a standard approach with knowledge and experience shared between the whole team, and thereafter it is reviewed again at a senior level within the agency, and lastly the case is then presented to the minister for his review and final decision.

Mr. Jonathan Cardona concludes by stating that the MIIPA also takes into consideration EU directives on AML/CFT and, from experience, they identify how some individuals try to dodge the systems and adapt accordingly. When the Agency becomes aware of a possible fraudulent application, or of an individual who has become a serious liability to the country of Malta, the Agency gives an informed opinion to the Minister responsible for citizenship and a procedure to deprive citizenship is initiated by the Department of Citizenship.

Source: Citizenship by Investment