RUG investigates ‘passport professor’
The professor of constitutional law and citizenship was paid to advise the Maltese government on the sale of Maltese passports, according to investigative programme Nieuwsuur, which ran a report on Thursday evening.
The selling of Maltese passports may be legal, but it’s a controversial business. The passports sell for 900,000 euros each and it’s said that rich people from Russia and Saudi Arabia buy most of them. The buyers then leave Malta to make use of their free access to the European Union (EU).
Dutch intelligence service AIVD, the European Parliament, and the Council of Europe all warned of the passport business’ risk to security. The AIVD warns of malicious intelligence services who could abuse the passports for free access to the EU.
According to Nieuwsuur’s investigation, Kochonev has been advising the Maltese government about the passport business since 2014. ‘He serves as an adviser and provides advice on a questionable programme’, said Maltese opposition member Jason Azzopardi to Nieuwsuur.
Kochenov, also known as the ‘passport professor’, is an expert in the field of European migration law. He’s also a world-renowned speaker when it comes to the trade in passports. Until recently, he served as president of the Investment Migration Council, an organisation that promoted the trade in residence permits and passports.
‘He’s an adviser for a company that makes millions off the trade in passports’, Azzopardi said in Nieuwsuur. ‘I also have issue with the fact that he went to the European Committee. He defended his own interests rather than those of Malta.’
During the Nieuwsuur broadcast, the RUG said they had no doubts about their professor’s scientific integrity. But on Friday, the university said they would be starting an investigation after all. ‘Yesterday’s broadcast was enough to convince the university to start an investigation’, RUG spokesperson Jorien Bakker said.
The RUG refused to elaborate on the specifics or the duration of the investigation. During the course of the investigation, Kochenov will be allowed to continue his work at the university.