Chetcuti Cauchi represented the Malta Citizenship Programme honourably

January 19 00:00 2020 by The Editor Print This Article

Raw footage obtained by court order reveals an exemplary representation of Malta IIP due diligence

Four months ago, journalists alleged that Chetcuti Cauchi IIP lawyers were caught on camera boasting of government relations and of using such relations to assist clients with dubious backgrounds.  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 clearly shows malicious 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.  

Chetcuti's schooldays relations were mentioned only in response to a third, repeated question by the journalist, which was then used out of context to portray the 'boasting'.  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.”

and

“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.”

Local media was taken aback at the raw footage exonerating the citizenship agent, given their reliance on assertions by the French producers.  MaltaToday, the paper that first broke the story was also shown the full footage and was shocked with the revelations, saying it now understood why its various requests to the French media company for the full raw footage were ignored prior to carrying the first story.  MaltaToday gave the news of the exonerating raw footage a front page and a double page spread, and produced a video putting side by side the unedited with the tampered footage to expose the gross editing carried out by the French journalist: 

"The spirit of the entire conversation was about the strict standards of due diligence employed in the IIP, yet the few seconds in which I reply to the journalist’s isolated questions about whether I know a minister or not were amplified to suit a preconceived narrative.  The video shows how misrepresented the entire conversation was,” Chetcuti said.

French media company fined for obstruction of process

The outrageous allegation was made in a French TV programme produced with a clear intention to portray Malta and the Maltese people as corrupt.  "Having examined the raw footage with various independent experts, it is clear that the French TV producers are guilty of a crude cut-and-paste to portray a lawyer in bad light.  On the contrary, the unedited footage reveals over an hour of meeting time of a senior partner of Chetcuti Cauchi honourably representing the Maltese jurisdiction, the Maltese legal system and the firm’s on-boarding procedures as transparent, compliant and very selective when it comes to the reputation of the investors it seeks to attract," says the firm's press release.

When the allegations were made public, Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates launched a fully-fledged judicial action in the France Criminal court against the French media company responsible for producing the defamatory programme.

It was only last December that the company succumbed to legal pressures and handed over the raw footage to Chetcuti Cauchi’s lawyers in France.

“The Maltese media erroneously took these allegations as facts, basing their assumptions on tampered footage from the French journalist’s hidden-camera and giving little attention to the fact that the footage was entirely dubbed in French, when the meeting was conducted entirely in English. The media also failed to seek our version of events.The truth had to come out, we fought tooth and nail for that truth and today we are proud to say that it has come out,” added Dr Chetcuti.

“The spirit of the entire conversation was about the strict standards of due diligence employed in the IIP, yet the few seconds in which I reply to the journalist’s questions about how I know a minister were amplified and overstated. It is a misrepresentation of the entire conversation”, outlines Dr Chetcuti.

“We believe the complete evidence in hand finally removes all doubts about the firm’s excellent track record in representing reputable international investors to Malta.  I would like to personally recognise the formidable resilience, loyalty and commitment of all our partners, associates and other professional staff across all the firm’s corporate and private client practices.” concluded Dr Jean Philippe Chetcuti.

Chetcuti Cauchi and the IIP

Before the IIP, Chetcuti Cauchi rose up the ranks of Maltese law firms and financial services firms on the strength of Malta's newly acquired EU membership and a flourishing financial services sector.  In a relatively short span, the unconventional and business oriented law firm grew into a 150 strong firm playing with the big firms in the legal and professional services sector.

Chetcuti Cauchi rose to fame in the IIP with the announcement in early 2014 of its investor clients being the first Maltese citizenship approvals under the MIIP.  The firm continues to publish extensive research in the area of investment promotion, including publications on global citizenship programmes such as the Dual Citizenship Report, edited by Dr Chetcuti.

Dr Jean-Philippe Chetcuti is very visible as a guest speaker at several international conferences as a lawyer specialising in investing in Malta. Commentators attribute this fact as the possible reason for singling him out for a media attack on Malta.

Malta ranks first in Chetcuti Cauchi's CIP Due Diligence Index, that researched due diligence applied by Citizenship by Investment programmes. This backs government assertions that the MIIP's due diligence was an international gold standard. Though the firm is not involved in politics, another of its studies, the CIP Index, ranks Malta first on objective rating criteria against other European and Non-European programmes, and was also seen as giving credibility to the Maltese programme and again, may have attracted this attack by opponents of the MIIP or of the Maltese Government.