Kuwait passport Image Credit: Wiki Commons

Manama: A Kuwaiti lawmaker said he would seek answers from the foreign and interior ministers on reports that Kuwaiti citizens had acquired the Maltese citizenship.

“The issue is worth following up to find out their reasons for the acquisition of the Maltese citizenship and the measures that will be taken by the government,” MP Adel Al Damkhi said.

The investigation was launched after The Times of Malta published a report in which it said that citizens from Arabian Gulf states and former Soviet republics have obtained the Maltese citizenship through Malta’s citizenship-by-investment programme.

The daily said that in 2017, one wealthy Saudi family obtained 35 passports and another one acquired 27 after paying millions of euros.

Parliament Secretary Ouda Al Ruwaie said naturalisation issues were often complex and could not addressed without knowing the motives and the emotions that lead people to apply for the citizenship of another country.

“When someone acquires a nationality willingly, they should understand that they will be deprived of the Kuwaiti citizenship. I am not referring only to the Maltese citizenship, but to all others. Some Kuwaiti children acquire the US or British citizenship because they were born there, for instance,” he said, quoted by Kuwaiti daily Al Rai.

Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Al Jarallah said that the issue of double nationality is within the prerogatives of the interior ministry.

“Kuwait does not allow its citizens to hold any other nationality. The role of the foreign ministry in such cases is to follow up on requests from the interior ministry and inquire through its embassies. We are ready to follow up with the competent authorities through official channels,” he said.

Al Rai this week reported that it investigated the names of the people of obtained the Maltese citizenship in 2016 and 2017 and found Kuwaiti individuals and families.

Under the Individual Investor Programme, launched in 2014, people who pay €650,000 for every passport and provide a €150,000 investment in government stocks or bonds, as well as satisfy property requirements and pass Identity Malta due diligence procedures can obtain the Maltese citizenship and, as a result, attain EU citizenship. Applicants have to pay €25,000 for spouse and each child under 18 and € 50,000 for each adult child (18-26 years old) and each parent above 55 years.

Malta’s citizenship-by-investment programme is the “most expensive in the world” and only “the best” applicants need apply, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said in July.

“If your clients have failed other programmes, do not even bother since our due diligence is the toughest in the industry. Actually, we are aware that some of our new citizens are using the fact that they successfully completed our process as a sign of their clean bill of health”, Muscat told an audience of migration agents and immigration lawyers in the US.

The citizenship for the whole family can be obtained in 12-14 months, but the programme is capped at 1,800 applicants, and 900 individuals have already received Maltese citizenship by investment, according to officials.

A Maltese passport enables its holder to settle freely in any European Union country as well as Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, and travel to 182 countries and territories visa-free or visa on arrival, ranking it seventh in terms of travel freedom, according to the Henley Passport Index.