Regulatory Issues – Malta’s Financial Services Authority making the headlines for the wrong reasons

MFSA in troubles
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Joseph “Joe” Cuschieri, the former CEO of Malta’s Financial Services Authority (MFSA), keeps hitting the headlines, despite his resignation. The chairman of MFSA, John Mamo, has confirmed in Malta’s Parliament that Cuschieri was being paid honoraria reserved for board members attending meetings; on top of his financial package as CEO. Mamo also revealed that Joseph Cuschieri was asked to return these extra payments. Cuschieri apparently has not been a fit and proper MFSA CEO but rather a political toyboy.

It is very telling that Mamo informed the Maltese Parliament that he had sought and got the blessing of former disgraced Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat.

Free Journeys with friends

Joe Cuschieri and Edwina Licari

The Maltese press revealed that the former short-time MFSA CEO Joe Cuschieri had traveled with Edwina Licari on no less than 38 business trips costing EUR 0.5 million over the last six years. Edwina Licari is MFSA’s, General Counsel. (photo – left to right – Cuschieri, Licari) She was recruited following an interview with Cuschieri and Mamo. Trips included Mauritius, Peru, Australia, Macau, New York, and Las Vegas.

The Financial Times had published information on French prosecutors’ investigation in the Maltese magnate’s business activities, Yorgen Fenech, who is charged with the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Following investigations by the Maltese press, Cuschieri confirmed that he traveled with Edwina Licari on a free holiday with long-time acquaintance Yorgen Fenech to Las Vegas. Cuschieri happens to be married to the daughter of Malta’s President George Vella. Vella’s main political highlight remains his failed campaign towards Malta not joining the European Union.

While Cuschieri resigned from MFSA Edwina Licari is still retained by the financial services regulator.

Missing MFSA Supervision

Fintelegram has recently revealed two cases where Maltese registered companies played a role in scams. MFSA officials Edward Grech and Michelle Mizzi Buontempo have also been informed and provided with relevant information via EFRI. To date, no official announcement by MFSA has been made on these cases. No reaction was received. Well, they are currently busy with their own troubles!

Joe Cuschieri and Christopher Buttigieg

The MFSA is currently without a CEO and is being led by its Dr. Christopher P. Buttigieg (MFSA page), who enjoyed a record number of promotions under the helm of Cuschieri (photo – left to right – Cuschieri, Buttigieg). Buttigieg is known in the international arena for being the mastermind of a project to transform Malta into a blockchain island. The Maltese Government has shelved this project after international contributors labeled it as a complete failure. Millions of euros of taxpayers’ money have been wasted on this campaign whilst Buttigieg consolidated his position within MFSA.

During Cuschieri’s tenure at MFSA, with Buttigieg serving as his right man, an exodus of licensed firms, including well-known banks, left the island. Malta is under the limelight of Moneyval and FATF after failing to take necessary action to combat money laundering.

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