Passport Merchants

The nations with citizenship for sale

Passport Merchants The market of selling nationalities for high sums is a lucrative business. Since the war in Ukraine, Russian millionaires have been flocking to buy new passports. In Malta, this corrupt practice has been strongly criticised.
Henley & Partners is a Swiss-run firm which specialises in selling passports for small nations to the ultra-rich. CEO Christian Kälin insists that the company is ethical: ‘Citizenship goes back to the feudal era. It is an unfair lottery; it is something you inherit. If some individuals contribute to a country, why not give them the right to become members of that country?’ Manuel Delia, a Maltese journalist, has been investigating the trend of passport buyers setting up fictitious residences on the island. ‘Two buyers of Maltese citizenship are supposed to live in this basement. One a Russian owner of a chain of sports stores, the other a construction magnate from Saudi Arabia’. ‘This is not credible. No one has ever seen them. They are typical passport buyers’. Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was murdered in 2017, was the first to expose the story of Malta’s passport corruption. Her death has since been revealed to have been orchestrated by a powerful Maltese businessman, angry with her prying into his dealings. Her son Matthew continues her investigations: ‘The colossal sums of money generated by the golden passport program have created an unhealthy climate on this island’, he says.

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