Complete Exoneration for Chetcuti Cauchi; “No Evidence of Collusion,” Citizenship Regulator

November 12 00:00 2019 by The Editor Print This Article

UPDATED: French media house misrepresented the Maltese Citizenship program in undercover recording of a meeting with Maltese lawyers.  Raw footage obtained in December 2019 by Court Order revealed the claims were fabricated.  In 2023, Chetcuti Cauchi won landmark defamation case against media group M6 and production company Ligne De Front who caused the media scandal in 2019.  In their defence, the media executives challenged the presentation of their own footage as evidence against them and backtracked on their allegations.  The Court of Criminal Appeal of Paris found both media executives guilty of "dishonest, criminally reprehensible conduct" and "distortion of the facts in bad faith".

Leading Malta Citizenship Agent presented only reputable investors

The Office of the Regulator for the Individual Investor Programme (ORiip) has concluded, after a six-week review of all Malta IIP applications submitted by the firm, that Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates is innocent of all allegations brought against it by a French TV channel in September.

Regulator finds no evidence to support allegations

In what can only be characterised as a complete and unequivocal vindication for the law firm, ORiip stated in its report on the matter that they had “not uncovered any red flags which support, in all or in part, the purported allegations." 

No records were found of applicants having a criminal record or of applications being presented for the Minister’s consideration more than once. 

There was no indication of collusion between the Agent and the responsible Minister (or with the Agency) or that the former, at any point since the start of the Programme, had ever received preferential treatment.

The independent regulator further found there was no basis for the allegation that Chetcuti Cauchi had enjoyed a 100% application success rate, and calculated that, in reality, only 16% of the firm’s applications were not approved,. The review also stated there was nothing to indicate the company had ever attempted to “get around the selection criteria.”

Even in the hypothetical case that the firm had attempted to circumvent procedures “the stringent checks and balances which are in place would have ensured that such attempts would have been futile,” concluded the Malta Citizenship Regulator.

Acquittal of Malta Citizenship Firm, Malta Citizenship Agency

The results of the inquiry represent not only an acquittal of the agent in question, but also of the Maltese citizenship program’s integrity and structure of fail-safe mechanisms, drawn into question by the French programme. The findings, by extension and implication, also amount to a scathing indictment of the methods employed by the undercover reporters of France’s M6.

Chetcuti Cauchi represented the Malta Citizenship Programme honourably - Raw Footage

Chetcuti Cauchi, arguably the biggest local contributor of applications to the Maltese citizenship programme, has now been completely reinstated viz-a-viz the Malta Individual Investor Programme.

Attacks on Malta's Citizenship by Investment Programme

Back in September, the Maltese IIP programme received what looked like the usual attack on the credibility of Malta's citizenship programme . This time, however, a journalist claimed to have hidden camera footage of representatives of the firm saying they can assist criminals get access to Europe through a Maltese passport!  Outrageous claims not supported by the footage the hidden camera meeting published by French TV, where the journalist completely voices-over Chetcuti Cauchi's words (in English) with the message (in French) that fit their agenda. 

Who are Chetcuti Cauchi?

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.

Updated 2020: Chetcuti Cauchi obtains exonerating raw footage in French court order 

Raw footage obtained by court order in December 2019 and published by Chetcuti Cauchi proves how, even tested in hidden-camera circumstances, the Maltese citizenship firm honourably represented the strictness and seriousness of the IIP's due diligence standard, and emphasised the selectiveness of the firm's client on-boarding rules.

Chetcuti Cauchi Raw Footage clears Malta's foremost IIP Agent

Updated 2023: Publisher & Producer found guilty of criminal defamation

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 March 24th 2021 and arraigned before the Criminal Court of Paris in June 23rd 2021. 

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 them.

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.”

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."