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Malta revives plan to sell citizenship

Monday - 12/23/2013, 5:00pm  ET

VALLETTA, Malta (AP) -- The Maltese government on Monday announced a revised scheme to sell citizenship in the European Union nation, raising the threshold of investment without introducing a residency requirement.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told reporters the new requirements include a total investment of 1.15 million euros ($1.57 million), up from the original 650,000 euros to buy a passport. Now, fast-track Maltese citizens must also make a 350,000-euro property investment and spend another 150,000 euros in bonds or shares for at least five years.

The scheme will be capped at 1,800 passports, Muscat said, and the names of those granted citizenship will be made public --a concession made earlier as a result of public outcry that Malta would be exposed to citizenship-seekers with ill intentions, such as terrorists. Passports will be granted at the completion of a diligence exercise, which would take between six months and two years.

The leader of the opposition National Party, Simon Susuttil, said he will oppose the scheme when the legal notice is presented next month in parliament, the last hurdle to implementation. But the opposition lacks the numbers to block it. The National Party is against the concept of immediate sale of citizenship want wants a residency requirement of a set number of years.

The Labour government revised the plan after a public opposition and international media attention, but failed to reach any accord with the opposition.


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