Malta Citizenship Regulator

ORiip Office of the Regulator of the IIP

Dr. Jean-Philippe Chetcuti | 29 Feb 2020

Malta in International Tax Regulatory Asset Structuring

The office of the Malta Citizenship Regulator is set up by the Maltese Citizenship Act (MCA) in Article 25.  The Malta Citizenship Regulator has the duty to monitor and ‘investigate complaints’[1] and to ‘keep under review all aspects of the IIP’.[2] The Maltese Citizenship Act gives the authority to the Prime Minister, after consulting the leader of the Opposition the power to appoint as a Regulator any individual who has held the office of a Judge or a Magistrate, or who has held the office of the AG or Permanent Secretary or who has practised as an advocate for a period of at least twelve years. In addition to his functions, the regulator may be assigned any other function relating to citizenship as the PM deems necessary.

Worthy of note is that although the law gives the power to the regulator to investigate complaints, the final decision is still in the hands of the Minister responsible for Maltese Citizenship. The law also holds that in cases where the regulator is not appointed, the Ombudsman shall act as the regulator ex officio

Independence of the Malta Citizenship Regulator

The independence of the Malta Citizenship Regulator is secured by law as this office shall not be subject to the discretion or control of any person or authority and has the power to request information by any person involved in the IIP. Another important duty of the regulator is to make an annual report on the discharge of his functions, and present it to the Minister who has the duty to table such a report in parliament. This report however shall not include personal details relating to investors who acquired Maltese citizenship by investment. Moreover, the Maltese Citizenship Act also regulates the dissemination of information relating to the IIP and Article 23(3) holds that any individual who for gain and without being duly authorised, advertises, publishes or shares information relating to the programme shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine.

Malta Citizenship Regulator & the Citizenship Monitory Committee

The MCA by virtue of Article 25B also sets up a monitoring committee consisting of the PM, the leader of the opposition and the Minister responsible for citizenship. The principle aim of the monitoring committee is to monitor the workings of the programme, the MIIP Agency and its constitution. This committee shall meet at least once a year and has the authority to call the regulator to report on his duties. The regulator in the first annual report observed that notwithstanding that the roles of the regulator and the monitoring committee seem to overlap, the function of the regulator is more technical while that of the monitoring committee deals with the political side of the programme.[3]

Ensuring the Proper Administration of the Malta Individual Investor Programme

The creation of the Office of Regulator IIP, the Malta Citizenship Regulator has gone a long way to appease all stake-holders, political parties and agents in evidencing the Government's committment to a transparent process, a Government that will not tolerate any underhand or improper behaviour that have resulted in scandals in other citizenship by investment programmes outside Malta.  The Maltese Prime Minister has on a number of occasions publicly emphasised that the programme is restricted to only persons of integrity and of good repute to ensure that passing through the programme renders successful applicants members of a club of good quality citizens who can contribute socially and economically to the development and well-being of Malta.

References: AN ACT to amend the Maltese Citizenship Act, Cap 188 (Bill of 2013)

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Key Contacts

Dr Priscilla Mifsud Parker

Senior Partner, Corporate, Tax & Immigration

+356 22056122

Dr Antoine Saliba Haig

Senior Associate, Head of Immigration

+356 22056266

Marina Magri

Head of Immigration & Global Mobility

+356 22056147

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