DUBAI, UAE — Following confirmation earlier this year by a Dubai court that a report published by the Investment Migration Council (IMC) constituted a violation of good media practice and defamation of Arton Advisors, part of global citizenship consultants Arton Capital group of companies, IMC has now removed the offending report from the public domain.
In a statement published on its website on Saturday confirming its removal, IMC claimed the purpose of the report was to highlight the misconduct of the Hungarian government in administering its so-called residency bond programme and the legal framework in which it was run.
“The programme has now been suspended, and the IMC will continue to consider this framework as the programme is considered further in Hungary,” the statement said.
“The IMC wishes to make clear that the report it published with Transparency International and Professor Boldizsar Nagy was not intended to target or impugn Arton Capital, nor was there any evidence of wrongdoing on its part or indeed on the part of any other specific private company associated with the Hungarian residency bond programme.
“The IMC and Arton Capital have agreed to settle their differences arising from the publication of the report, and are looking forward now to working together on important projects for the benefit of the investment migration industry,” the statement concluded.
It is by no means clear whether or not IMC’s use of the expression “settle their differences” involves the payment of any monetary compensation to Arton, and neither Arton nor IMC responded to a request for comment and clarification in this regard.
According to the statement of claim filed in court in Dubai, the report in question, instigated by IMC, contained many inaccuracies and resulted in significant reputational damage to Arton Advisors.
A Dubai court expert confirmed in March the defamatory content and considered such action adversely affected the reputation of Arton Advisors, contrary to Dubai law.
At that time, IMC had a representative office in Dubai run by Citizenship Invest.
Despite repeated warnings from Arton Advisors’ lawyers, IMC continued to promote the report and even proceeded with discussing it in a special session at its annual meeting in Geneva last year. IMC also promoted the report at a press conference in Budapest, Hungary, and through numerous articles which were published in the aftermath.
IMC is a Geneva-based self-proclaimed oversight association for investor migration and citizenship-by-investment prominently backed by Henley & Partners, another consultancy firm active in the various economic citizenship programmes worldwide.
Henley chairman Christian Kalin is one of the five-strong governing board of IMC and his critics have said that he is using the organisation to attack his commercial rivals. Several resignations last year from IMC’s advisory committee were apparently prompted by concern over potential lawsuits and IMC’s involvement in attacking residency programmes such as Hungary’s going beyond its stated mission.
Also, on the face of it, contrary to its stated mission “to improve public understanding” as an industry voice setting “standards on a global level”, IMC solicits advertising on its website and other marketing channels from industry stakeholders, which would appear to open up significant opportunities for conflicts of interest and raises serious questions as to its objectivity in such matters – as apparently illustrated by the defamatory report.