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This is part six of a broader investigation. Click to read: part one | explainer | part two | part three | part four | part five

Following months of being down for maintenance right after the publication of an investigation by The Critical Angle project, the website which advertises the services of disgraced former economy minister Chris Cardona’s passport selling company, IWS Global Ltd, has quietly gone back online, with one significant difference since this website last reported on it: its former legal advisor, immigration police inspector and lawyer Frankie Sammut, is no longer listed as such since the website came back online.

IWS Global Ltd is a company which is partly owned by Cardona in conjunction with his business partner, Matthias Vidergold. Cardona had taken over half the company’s shares in 31 August 2023. Prior the disgraced minister’s involvement, the company, which was originally registered in 2014, had failed to show any signs of economic activity for over six years, with its latest audited accounts from 2020 indicating a negligible amount of activity. Within just three years, the company suddenly transformed into a sprawling business, selling citizenship services from its offices in Malta, the United Arab Emirates, St Lucia, and St Kitts and Nevis.

The company offers a wide range of immigration and cheap labour employment services, including the facilitation of golden passport acquisitions, a practice that has landed Malta in hot water with the European Union. Following this website’s first article about IWS Global, which was published in October of last year, IWS’ website was temporarily shut down before this website was informed that it had come back online earlier this week.

After that first story was published, this website also zeroed in on Sammut’s glaring conflict of interest as an employee in a company that sells golden passports while also working as a police inspector who actively pursues immigration cases involving fake passports. In fact, Sammut, together with two other police officers who had performed legal work extraneous to their police duties, had taken police commissioner Angelo Gafa’ to court following the latter’s reversal on a decision to allow police officers to provide legal services in their own time.

However, in spite of their initial urgent request to the court for a warrant of prohibitory injunction, Sammut and his colleagues seem to have abandoned their case against the police commissioner’s decision since none of them as much as bothered to show up to the last hearing in January. The next hearing is set for 20 March.

In spite of multiple requests for comment, none of the individuals mentioned in this website’s investigation about IWS Global’s affairs have ever responded. The police force has also repeatedly stated that a response to this website’s questions about Sammut’s dual role as police inspector and immigration services provider was being drafted but nonetheless never actually did send a response. Given the update being published today, another reminder has been sent to the police force’s spokesperson.

Given the blanket refusal to answer questions, it is not known why the company’s website came back online without any reference to Sammut. Sammut’s LinkedIn profile had never listed his employment with IWS Global, and remains unchanged since this investigation was initiated.

Cardona branches out into food delivery…with a market hawker from Floriana

Following a review of this website’s initial research into IWS’ affairs, we also uncovered another link which we had previously missed at the start of this investigation – IWS Global is the majority shareholder in another company named IWS Fleet Ltd. IWS Fleet Ltd was incorporated on the same exact date that Cardona took over half the shares of IWS Global Ltd in August of last year, and is listed at the same Swieqi address as its mother company.

A screenshot from the Malta Business Registry which shows the names of the shareholders for IWS Fleet Ltd.

While there is practically no information about the company itself – there are no audited accounts available for review and it does not seem to have a tangible digital footprint – its memorandum and articles of association on the Malta Business Registry do indicate that the company was set up “to operate as a courier fleet owner providing food delivery services by any means in Malta”.

Previously, this website covered IWS’ extensive efforts to recruit foreign workers from impoverished, non-EU countries for the European labour market, indicating a possible link between IWS Global’s business venture and the practice of employing foreign workers in the local food delivery industry.

The minority shareholder of IWS Fleet is listed as Alfred Xuereb Restrepo Sanchez. Bizarrely, the same individual is listed solely as Alfred Xuereb – bearing the same exact ID card number – in multiple entries on the Government Gazette as a license bearing market hawker in Floriana. It is not known when or why Xuereb changed his surname.

Even stranger is the fact that the co-owner of IWS Global, Matthias Vidergold, was also previously listed under a different surname – Saliba, indicating that at least two individuals associated with Cardona’s business changed their identity for reasons which remain unclear.

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