Chetcuti Cauchi Raw Footage clears Malta's foremost IIP Agent

January 20 00:00 2020 by The Editor Print This Article

Malta Citizenship Due Diligence described professionally in rare undercover camera test 

Raw footage transcribed by this portal came to light yesterday when Chetcuti Cauchi published the raw footage obtained by court order after the French court fined the French media house for obstruction of justice.  As the transcripts below demonstrate, the raw footage out-rightly disproves the allegation by the journalist that Chetcuti Cauchi citizenship lawyers received preferential treatment in citizenship applications.  

The IIP Regulator had reviewed the MIIP Agency's practices and found no facts to back this allegation - see ORiip Report on IIP Applications submitted by Chetcuti Cauchi of November 2019.  This Report crucially gave a clean bill of health to Chetcuti Cauchi's citizenship work and found the IIP Agency’s conduct strict, professional and impartial.

Raw footage reveals deceptive editing

Now the raw footage seen by Legal-Malta proves the direct opposite of the allegations.  In the footage, Chetcuti and other representatives explained at length how even a bad reputation would necessitate an assessment prior to taking on the client and that clients with a criminal background should not even apply.  Selectively disregarded by the French producer is part of the recording that shows Chetcuti explain at length the due diligence process undertaken by the firm and that the firm is selective in whom it represents.  The journalist clearly left out statements that didn't fit his agenda in what media sources told us was an act of unethical journalism.

Footage shows that when asked directly by the undercover journalist about the use of Chetcuti's professional relations with the authorities, the senior partner promptly reacted:

“I am always very careful to explain to people like that, look it doesn't mean I can get something done if it's not.  So that's the way I operate, so to do it the right way, if there is a concern, address the concern. And if it's not doable, we can be honest and say, I can't help here.”


“coz with a passport check we will immediately know what there is.... so we offer a free assessment at the outset, passport check, if it's a complete no go, we don't waste your time, we tell you, don't waste your time.”

Magisterial Inquiry finds sufficient evidence against French media executives

Our legal correspondent followed up the proceedings of the investigating judge conducting a magisterial inquiry into the actions of Nicolas de Tavernost CEO of the French media group M6.  Chetcuti filed the complaint in January 2020 after winning the first decree ordering him to hand over the original footage and imposing a daily €1,000 fine for obstruction of process. Delayed by COVID-19, in October 2022 an investigating judge was appointed to conduct a magisterial inquiry into the actions of M6 CEO.  After interrogations, the CEO was indicted on 24th March 2021 and arraigned before the Criminal Court of Paris in 23rd June 2021. 

Defence sought to exclude damning footage

Defence submissions seen by this portal request the judge to expunge / remove from the case the original footage presented by the complainant Chetcuti as evidence of defamation. French legal experts have told us that French criminal law does not allow the complainant to seek a court order forcing the defendants to present evidence that would incriminate them. Yet the conventional defence in a criminal defamation case is the defence of the truth, that is to demonstrate that allegations made were indeed true, backed by evidence.  Legal experts found this twist in the case to be indicative that their own footage would disprove their allegations and would incriminate the media executives.

Accusers become defenders: Journalists facing criminal charges retracts allegations

In an even more surreal twist, the publisher Nicolas de Tavernost of Groupe M6 denied making any claims of impropriety, claiming:

“The plaintiffs (Chetcuti) are thus presented as highly efficient professionals for their clients, in the absence of being able to appeal rejection decisions, knowing then how to implement other available remedies, of which there is nothing to indicate that they would be illegal.”

But the Court would have nothing of it. In its appeal judgement in respect of "Enquête Exclusive" producer Ligne de Front CEO, the Court noted that:

in his conclusions, Bernard DE LA VILLARDIERE indicates that the rushes demonstrate "nothing except that the law firm is indeed opposed to assisting clients with a criminal past", but that, contrary to what he claims, the statement pursued suggests the opposite.”

Appeal Court finds Publisher & Producer guilty of criminal defamation

The French Court of Criminal Appeal allowed the original footage exhibited by Chetcuti to be used as evidence. As a result, in what the Court described as "dishonest, criminally reprehensible conduct" , the Court found Nicolas de Tavernost, chairman of the Groupe M6 and Bernard de La Villardière, CEO of production company Ligne de Front, both guilty of criminal defamation, given that their voiced-over allegations did not correspond to the underlying footage and were a “distortion of the truth” committed in bad faith.


“Distortion of the facts”: French media executives guilty of libel in Chetcuti Cauchi case."

Transcript of Chetcuti Cauchi's Exonerating Raw Footage

The following is a transcript of the TRUE conversation describing the due diligence standards applied by the Malta Individual Investor Programme:

“one thing that you need to look at in Malta is that .. our (CIP) Due Diligence Index outlines this:  Malta ranks 1st in due diligence because it also takes into account Reputation … so even though they might be cleared or they might prove they're innocent, it's still bad press.”

“So one thing we offer … is an assessment, where we don't just take an application, yes we can do it, apply, you're clean. Coz being clean is not good enough.”

“One thing I will tell you is that the odds are... they (African countries) are treated as high risk already... so the starting point isn't a pleasant one. People from these countries start with a disadvantage… So that's why I think for them an assessment would be critical coz there will be cases where we will not waste time. In other cases, it just means we are better equipped because the best equipment is to know all the facts. And that is another way where we feel we are better positioned as a law firm, of course, they can open up.”

“So we basically offer our clients, if there is this kind of scenario of bad press and so on, we prefer if the client pays a much smaller fee for an assessment.  This covers an EDDR that we get from a third party company.”

“They (MIIP Agency) conduct… engage two or three due diligence agents, … they have boots on the ground.”

“No, the best thing is to disclose it. It's better to disclose it and explain it. If you get caught then sometimes you don't even get a chance to explain, you get rejected. and you won't even know why.”

“coz with a passport check we will immediately know what there is.... so we offer a free assessment at the outset, passport check, if it's a complete no go, we don't waste your time, we tell you, don't waste your time.”

“No I think the fact that there is this (European) Expert committee with the specific objective to set minimum standards, its saying they are here to stay: we don't mind them as long as they follow the rules, and that's what we want.  Malta doesn't want them to be easy.”

“The OECD in its Report said we recognise the legitimate reasons for Citizenship Programmes, the right to move to a stable country, the right to set up a business in a different country, job opportunities, education for the kids and so on.... but they can be misused, so (OECD) we recommend to banks to apply these,.... check the country of birth... ask for his other passport. don't accept just a Maltese residency or a Portuguese residency or a St Kitts Passport and you're happy with that... you need to ask for where are you resident. In reality banks already knew this. They ask for a Certificate of Tax Residency, not a PP or a residence card. Anyone can have multiple residence cards, So it's a lot of the same thing. The rules are there.”

“And the European Commission, … makes sure that the existing rules on money laundering, border control, security, the Schengen Information System all the checks... and existing money laundering rules are applied...”

“So at the moment, the European Commission set up an Expert Group where all the representatives of all these programmes are meeting. I'm supporting … the MIIP Agency, basically giving our (CIP) Due Diligence Report, our Index where Malta ranks 1st, and the points, the minimum standards, they asked Malta to suggest minimum standards because ironically they recogize Malta as a very good standard of Due Diligence.”

“Coz the reality is the Maltese programme is the cleanest of them all.  They haven't given any one passport that was found to be wrongly given.  Of course, you cannot exclude that someone who got a Maltese passport 10 years ago, might do something wrong in the future ... but in the past no.”

“No I think the fact that there is this (European) Expert committee with the specific objective to set minimum standards, that should apply across the board, its saying they are here to stay: we don't mind them as long as they follow the rules, which is what we want. Malta doesn't want them to be easy. Nobody wants criminals in their programmes.”