The Maltese authorities have started the process to withdraw Maltese citizenship from Mustafa Abdel-Wadood under the Individual Investor Programme, after he pleaded guilty in July to charges of misappropriation of funds in the US.

A spokesperson for IIP Malta, the agency responsible for the sale of Maltese passports, said that together with the parliamentary secretariat and Identity Malta it had “initiated the process for the deprivation of citizenship of [Mustafa Abdel-Wadood] and his dependents according to Article 14 of the Maltese Citizenship Act”.

They declined to comment further, insisting the agency could not discuss individual cases.

Abdel-Wadood, 49, a former executive at Abraaj Group, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and agreed to co-operate with a US investigation of a scheme that helped lead to the world’s biggest private equity insolvency in 2018. He also holds Egyptian citizenship. He is one of six former Abraaj executives facing racketeering and securities fraud charges following an investigation by New York prosecutors.

The executive was arrested in April in New York while on a shopping trip with his wife and son. Since then, he has been confined to his home in New York and subject to a $10 million bond. Abdel-Wadood is the only defendant to appear in court in the US.

Under Maltese law, anyone who within seven years after becoming naturalized is sentenced to jail for over 12 months, is liable to have their citizenship removed by the government.

However, in this particular case, the minister responsible must ensure they are satisfied that the person will not be rendered stateless once Maltese citizenship is removed.

Under Malta’s Individual Investor Programme, wealthy individuals can purchase Maltese citizenship for €650,000, in addition to a commitment to having an ‘immovable residence’ in Malta for at least five years, either through purchasing property valued over €350,000 or by renting property at €16,000 a year equivalent to €1,333 a month.

Earlier this year, the European Commission said it would continue to monitor similar passport schemes across the EU through a group of experts from various member states. The Commission has repeatedly raised concerns about such schemes, which it said opened the EU up to money laundering, corruption and organised crime.