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Sat 25 May 2019
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In her first of a series investigating the assassination of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Nicola Driscoll-Davies explores new revelations from the recent Parliamentary report into Fake News and Disinformation

The first time I read Daphne’s independent blog, I could not believe what I was reading. Daphne was no ordinary journalist, she was phenomenal. She did what I thought all journalists should be doing – researching vast leaks such as the Panama Papers and ethically reporting the facts

Daphne was fearless, and as a result harassed by government officials, the public and others for decades, but she kept on reporting. Sometimes when I read her reports on corruption I would feel scared for her and wonder how much longer she could continue her work.

Daphne Caruana Galizia was an investigative reporter for thirty years before she was assassinated on October 16 2017 by a car bomb near her home in Malta.

Citizens for Investment & Cambridge Analytica

Sixteen months on from her murder, Daphne’s reports remain on her blog, daphnecaruanagalizia.com. They seem to be more accurate and unnerving with each passing day.

Long before the now infamous data analytics company was in the news, Daphne was suggesting that Cambridge Analytica/SCL was working for the Maltese Labour Party and the current Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, in alliance with Henley & Partners, which specialises in overseas residence for rich clients and ‘citizens-by-investment’ policies. Henley & Partners dispute this allegation, saying “It had no formal working relationship with SCL.”Likewise, SCL denied any such relationship.

But a UK Parliamentary Committee this week released a final report into disinformation and fake news, which strongly contests the denials from the Government of Malta, concerning their communications with SCL/Cambridge Analytica and its director, Alexander Nix.

The report states that “SCL certainly had meetings in Malta, that Christian Kalin of Henley & Partners was introduced by SCL to Joseph Muscat in 2011, and that Christian Kalin met with both political parties before 2013.”

Henley & Partners confirmed to Byline Times that the CEO Christian Kalin did meet the current Maltese prime minister but: “Does not recall when exactly he would have met Joseph Muscat for the first time though it is likely to have been 2011.” However, Kalin is “absolutely sure” the introduction was not made by SCL or Mr Nix. He insists, moreover, that: “reports in this regard, including the reporting in the parliamentary committee citing ‘confidential’ sources, is false.”

Henley & Partners Deny a Faustian Pact

The all-party parliamentary report repeats the contents of its Interim report in alleging that the arrangement between a Nix and Kalin amounted to a “Faustian pact” to provide election assistance to SCL, in return for passport investment rights:

Dr Kalin has not interacted with Alexander Nix for many years and does not consider him a “friend”.

Henley and Partners

“Mr Kalin, arranged for investors to supply funding to pay for election campaigns, and then organised SCL to write their manifesto and oversee the whole campaign process. In exchange Alexander Nix told us, Henley & Partners would gain exclusive passport rights for that country, under citizen-by-investment programme. With the exclusive passport rights became a government that would be conducive to Mr Kalin and his clients.”

Henley & Partners categorically denied this when asked by Byline Times, saying: “Dr Kalin and Henley & Partners had no formal working relationship with Alexander Nix or SCL in the Caribbean (or anywhere else).”

“In 2010 we did, however, exchange some information and ideas with a view to better understanding the political landscape in the Caribbean a region that it turned out both SCL and Henley and Partners were involved in for many years.

“We also introduced each other to a number of contacts in the Caribbean, as would be normal for businesses operating in the same region.

“Dr Kalin has not interacted with Alexander Nix for many years and does not consider him a “friend”. Equally there has been no contact between SCL (or any related company) and Henley & Partners for many years.”

An Avalanche of Legal Cases

Daphne wrote about Henley & Partners and their billion-pound global citizenship-by-investment and migration business and their close relationship with the Maltese government. In return, she was threatened with legal action.

At the time of her death, Daphne was battling 47 libel suits against her work, with at least 74 per cent of cases mostly from Labour Party politicians and donors

It was the beginning a long-running dispute, of which Henley & Partners threatened Daphne with expensive and time-consuming libel actions in London. The company says it never formally began proceedings – and that Daphne edited some of her blog posts “because she accepted in these instances that she had been mistaken.”

At the time of her death, Daphne was battling 47 libel suits against her work, with at least 74 per cent of cases mostly from Labour Party politicians and donors, including Prime minister Muscat, Minister Konrad Mizzi, and Chief of Staff, Keith Schembri.

The European Parliament Steps In

A year on from her death, the European Parliamentary Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs (LIBE) voted in favour of a resolution concerning grave shortcomings in the rule of law in Malta

Byline Times has published a timeline of the 47 libel suits pending against Daphne

They cited insufficient action on crime and corruption, and the clear failure to investigate who ordered the killing of Daphne. The motion also recommends an immediate independent public inquiry into her murder and a complete withdrawal of ongoing libel cases against Daphne and her family from members of the government.

Interestingly, the motion urgently recommends Malta must terminate its investor citizenship and residence schemes “Without delay, as these programmes pose serious risks to the fight against money laundering and result in the actual sale of EU citizenship.”

“The Maltese government has concluded a confidential agreement with the private firm Henley & Partners to implement the Maltese “investor citizenship and residence scheme”, the EU Motion states, “making it impossible to verify whether the agreed procedures, sales volume, and further terms are in line with Maltese, EU and international law and security considerations.”

This means Henley & Partners may not be able to continue in the future with Malta’s Individual Investor Program which – for a minimum investment of 650,000 Euros – allows applicants to become a citizen of Malta, and the EU. 

Asked how much longer they can continue working in Malta after this statement, Henley & Partners stressed the need for regulation:

“The time has come to consider a regulatory framework,” the company told Byline Times: “Abuse of the system by unqualified or rogue actors is unambiguously damaging to every honest actor, country, or government involved in this field, and Henley & Partners fully agrees with the European Commission in that clear recommendations if not indeed regulation are needed for investment migration.”

Though the EU will continue to pressurise the Maltese authorities, Daphne’s murder remains unsolved. An outstanding investigative journalist gave Europe thirty years of work and risked her life, to tell the truth. More often than not, she was right.

I’ll be travelling to Malta and investigating the notorious murder further in my series JUSTICE FOR DAPHNE


More from this Byline Times investigation:

More stories filed under Reportage