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Special | Zo komen schimmige miljonairs Europa binnen

May 20, 2022
Malta, a small island state in the deep south of the European Union. It was known as a beautiful vacation spot. But in recent years it has become the problem child of the EU. All because of a new business started by the Maltese government... ...that has yielded hundreds of millions of euros but has many implications. Not just for Malta, but possibly for the entire EU. The Maltese passport trade. This Maltese neighborhood is, curiously, the home of a Russian ski jumper. At least, according to the record. And according to that record a Russian woman supposedly lives in this town.
special zo komen schimmige miljonairs europa binnen
But her neighbors have never seen her. Supposedly, two billionaires live in this basement. One from Russia and one from the United Arab Emirates. The door has two numbers. But there is no trace of either of them. The only window is boarded up. What is happening in Malta? In 2014 your government created a gold mine... ...that makes Malta earn hundreds of millions of euros every year: the sale of Maltese passports. The sale is legal. The Maltese government issues passports. For around 900,000 euros a buyer can become a naturalized Maltese. The global business elite is very interested. Malta has sold more than 2,000 passports.
special zo komen schimmige miljonairs europa binnen

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special zo komen schimmige miljonairs europa binnen...

After shopping in Malta... ...you automatically become an EU citizen. You can travel freely within the EU... ...create a company or open a bank account. But those wealthy passport buyers need one thing: a Maltese home. That is why hundreds of Maltese houses are unoccupied. The Maltese read about the dark side of this trade on a local journalist's blog. Daphne Caruana Galizia has scoop after scoop on the abuse of this office. Until she herself becomes world news on October 16, 2017... ...because of what she went through here that day. Daphne Caruana Galizia exposes something that is an open secret in Malta.
special zo komen schimmige miljonairs europa binnen
Hundreds of wealthy foreigners from outside the EU buy Maltese citizenship. Caruana Galizia obtains a list of the supposed addresses of the new citizens. Two years ago, Daphne and her son were working on a new story... ...when she has to go out on an errand. She takes her car and leaves. Matthew, still at home, hears the explosion. Caruana Galizia's son is convinced... ...that senior government officials are involved... ...in the murder of his mother. The criminal case is still open... ...but the fact remains that the passport trade deeply divides Malta. The revenue is very welcome to the government.
special zo komen schimmige miljonairs europa binnen
And many Maltese rent flats to billionaires from far away. Opponents warn of the implications of this new form of immigration. Delia knows that these millionaires have a reason: entry to the EU and all the benefits associated with it. There are strong indications that corrupt Maltese officials... ...are making fortunes from the passport trade. Some are in the upper echelons of government... ...or even work in Prime Minister Muscat's office. According to Azzopardi, the entry of euros is the origin of many ills. The Maltese government could not find anyone to talk to us about this. One thing is clear: Muscat and his government... ...are not planning to end their lucrative trade in Maltese passports.
Keith Schembri is the highest ranking Maltese official and Muscat's chief of staff. When his name appears in the Panama Papers... ...Matthew Caruana Galizia writes about his involvement in bribery. Maltese fraud detectives conclude that Schembri receives large sums of money... ...from buyers of Russian passports. The case of fraud is a problem for the government. If his right-hand man is corrupt, what about the prime minister himself? Muscat is accused of having close ties to the sector that makes money from trade. Muscat is responsible for a deal between his government and Henley & Partners... ...and its Swiss chairman, Christian Kalin.
H&P plays a double game. They make millions advising the Maltese government... ...on the sale of passports. And they make money by advising people who want to buy a Maltese passport. For those buyers, H&P organizes roadshows around the world... ...where Muscat extols the virtues of his passport. Muscat denies all allegations of conflict of interest. And there is no proof. But according to critics, he is actively protecting himself. This statement sounds plausible. Detectives investigating Steve Schembri were fired. His police file is gathering dust. Schembri remains Muscat's Chief of Staff. When non-Europeans buy a Maltese passport, many doors open for them.
But that can harm national security. Malta has opened the back door of the EU and in Finland they feel the current. A Russian is buying many strategically located Finnish islands off the coast. On Saturday morning he was out and about in the car. In the distance I saw headlights. I went over to take a look. Thomas hardly ever sees her strange cars, let alone on a Saturday at dawn. I saw two police cars with two policemen in each. So, I stopped at that point. The quiet area around Willberg's farm... ...is used for the largest Finnish military operation since World War II.
During a police operation two people were arrested in the Turku archipelago. The authorities close part of the airspace, while 400 soldiers and policemen... ...attack several places simultaneously. The operation concerns this man who has a Maltese passport. He is rich and, over the years, buys a lot of land in the Finnish Turku archipelago. In total, he buys 15 islands, as well as two former Finnish navy ships. The man has bought the Maltese passport from him but it comes from the neighbor of Finland. Russian Pavel Melnikov allegedly earned his fortune in plumbing. The islands he buys are along shipping lanes... ...and close to Finland's largest naval base.
A Russian who buys so much land in this area is highly suspicious, says Salonius. Melnikov's Finnish agent is a lawyer: Kari Uoti. He denies any wrongdoing. We sail to Serkilot, one of the Melnikov islands. The Turku Archipelago is a vast area of ​​islands off the southwest coast of Finland. This area contains shipping lanes to Finnish ports. And Russia is close. Melnikov built enough lodgings for hundreds of people. Everywhere you look, you'll see cameras, heat sensors... ...and communication equipment. All this at the gates of Finland and owned by a Russian with a Maltese passport. Let's go back to Melnikov's Maltese passport.
The Finnish lead investigator told Nieuwsuur Melnikov that he did indeed use it. Melnikov used his Maltese passport to travel. We are investigating other uses. Whatever Melnikov's intentions... ...his Maltese passport of his opens many new doors for him in Finland. The trade in Maltese passports or the purchase of Finnish islands... ...hardly seems to be our business. But an important man in this trade lives in the Netherlands. He is a professor at the University of Groningen, but has more positions. Professor Dimitry Kochenov has meetings in Rotterdam, Brussels and Minsk... ...but the Russian-born scholar happily makes time to talk to us.
How long have you lived here? - Almost 20 years. 17 years. I have been here since 2002. And you are Dutch. - Yes of course. His nickname is The Passport Professor. His impressive CV... ...shows universities in Mexico, the United States, Japan, Italy and Groningen. He visits conventions around the world speaking to government leaders... ...and speaking with lawyers and advisers helping wealthy passport buyers. We interviewed him in English. He tells us how he sees the Maltese passport trade. Kochenov's description plays an important role in the Maltese passport trade. When the European Commission asks Malta for clarification... ...the Maltese government asks Kochenov to offer legal assistance.
On his advice, Kochenov also gives this specific explanation: Malta's potential residents are not required to reside on the island. The government adopts Kochenov's advice... ...which is now a factor in the success of the passport trade. Russians, Chinese and Arabs can become Maltese and EU citizens... ...without moving to Malta. But many Maltese do not like this advice. Is Kochenov right? Is he an academic who only explains the law? Go back to his CV. Until recently, Kochenov was chairman of the Migration Investment Council. This international group promotes the trade in passports and residence permits. Kochenov is the only academic on the council board.
The other members are all from the industry. International lawyers and consultants advising the super-rich who buy passports. What does the council do? We check the registration of the Swiss Chamber of Commerce. It is an association that is in fact headed by Dimity Kochenov. Its main objective: Promote the sale of passports and residence permits. In the EU registers it is called an industry lobby group. And on its website, the council writes: '...giving a voice to the industry'. During Kochenov's presidency, the IMC enters into agreements with governments. As recently with Antigua and Barbuda. We asked Kochenov about this.
On his website, Kochenov writes that he is on the advisory board of Henley & Partners. H&P helped the Maltese government set up their passport trade... ...and they are still the exclusive advisers to the government when it sells passports. After our interview, Kochenov edited his website. And then there are Kochenov's appearances, talks and tips around the world. From a variety of positions. In Davos he spoke on behalf of his lobbyist... ...during a meeting organized by Henley & Partners. This is a session on residence permits in Moscow, organized by Malta. Kochenov speaks as a consultant, but the program calls him a professor... ...and shows the logo of the University of Groningen.
After our interview we found out more information. Kochenov was paid for his work for Malta. He confirms that he received around 36,000 euros. We see higher rates in the documents of the Maltese parliament... ...but Kochenov doesn't know about them, he says. But there is more. In the Maltese records we found a limited liability company in Malta which is located... ...in the offices of a law firm active in the passport trade. Kochenov is one of the two members of the board of directors of this company. His main activity: 'Promoting awareness of the passport trade.' Although Kochenov is legally responsible for the company... ...he refers us to his co-director when it comes to routine matters.
Kochenov is a full-time professor in Groningen... ...and studies the controversial passport trade. He chairs the lobby group of companies that profit from the passport trade. He is a director of his Maltese subsidiary, also active in the passport trade. On paper, he worked for a company that advises on the passport trade. And he was a paid adviser when Malta introduced its passport trade. Kochenov's moonlighting is criticized by Maltese politicians. Now that you've seen the full story, one thing is clear: you like investigative journalism. When you subscribe to our YouTube channel... ...you will get many more stories like this.

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