The Malta Independent 5 December 2020, Saturday

‘Why did Abela defend Cuschieri?’ – PN

Friday, 30 October 2020, 17:16 Last update: about 2 months ago

Why did Prime Minister Robert Abela defend currently suspended MFSA CEO Joseph Cushcieri?, asked the Nationalist Party in their reaction to the recent revelations on the Yorgen Fenech Las Vegas trip. 

On Wednesday, the Times of Malta reported Cuschieri travelled abroad to Las Vegas on the invitation of the man charged with masterminding the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Yorgen Fenech. MFSA legal adviser and FIAU board member Edwina Licari and Keith Schembri's former personal assistant Charlene Bianco Farrugia also attended the trip. 

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Today, it was announced that Cuschieri and Licari have suspended themselves from the MFSA until the needed investigations take place, with Licari resigning form the FIAU. It should also be noted that Abela defended Cuschieri, saying that there is no sign of there being a conflict of interest. 

The PN issued a statement in reaction to Abela’s comment on the situation, noting that the PN had called for the resignation of Cushcieri immediately after it got word of this situation. 

“It is clear that, in the same way former PM Joseph Muscat was willing to sacrifice the financial services sector to defend Keith Schembri, Brian Tonna and Konrad Mizzi, Abela is now doing the same by defending Cuschieri despite the dark shadow that has been cast on the MFSA at a time when the financial services industry is undergoing its most difficult period and is awaiting the conclusion of the Moneyval report,” the statement reads. 

The PN believes that this happening because Abela is not interested in Malta's reputation in the financial sector nor of the thousands of jobs he employs. Although this is a delicate time where the financial services sector in Malta cannot handle having a shadow over its regulator, because Cuschieri was one of the people who was placed in public office by Muscat, Abela still defended him. 

“Why did Abela defend Cuschieri?,” the PN asked. “Why, in contrast, did the MFSA force or ask Cuschieri to suspend himself?, who will be leading the investigation against them?, will an independent board be appointed for this purpose?, by whom is this board composed?, how truly independent from Abela is this investigation board which would investigate a person who one day ago Abela defended?” 

The PN is calling on Abela to declare when he became aware of this journey and to request the chairpersons of all public bodies to publicly declare any such conflict of interest cases that might prevent them from carrying out their responsabilites. 

“Abela should take responsibility for defending indefensible behaviour yesterday with this lasse fair kind of politics which is tainting our country's reputation and putting thousands of jobs in danger. He has to put his words into action and show that he is determined to repair the damage that has been done to our country’s reputation.”

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