The Malta Independent 18 September 2021, Saturday

Financial services watchdog to have its first ever non-Maltese CEO

Neil Camilleri Sunday, 25 July 2021, 08:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

The financial services watchdog will be led by a non-Maltese CEO for the first time since it was set up in 2002, The Malta Independent on Sunday can reveal.

A new CEO has been chosen and will be announced in the coming days, sources have confirmed with this newsroom.

The new CEO will take over from Christopher P. Buttigieg, who took over as acting head after the resignation of Joseph Cuschieri in October of last year.

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Earlier this year, the authority issued an international call for applications for its top job, with sources saying the MFSA was looking beyond Malta’s shores in a bid to “regain its credibility.”

The MFSA received bad press over the past few months, particularly over the resignation of its former CEO. Cuschieri resigned after it emerged that he had accompanied 17 Black owner Yorgen Fenech on a trip to Las Vegas in 2018.

The authority’s board had later appointed the authority’s Chief Officer Supervision, Christopher P. Buttigieg, as interim CEO.

The vacancy for its top post was advertised both locally and abroad. The call was posted in international publications such as The Economist.

The authority falls under the responsibility of the Finance Ministry, headed by Clyde Caruana.

Sources said there was a political wish to have a “wide open process for the sake of transparency.”

The call was opened on an international level to help the MFSA “regain credibility,” the sources added.

A specially appointed board was set up to shortlist the applicants and choose the next chief executive. This was a new procedure, since past CEOs were appointed by the authority’s board of governors.

A requirement for prospective applicants was prior experience working in a regulatory environment, ideally with exposure to multiple areas within financial services regulation.

A “solid” academic background in Financial Services, Management, Accountancy, Law and/or in other finance-related areas are also required.

This newsroom is informed that the authority has now concluded the process and chosen its next CEO. The government is expected to announce the name in the coming days.

Sources said the new CEO will have his work cut out for him after the recent greylisting by the Financial Action Task Force and, more recently, the decision by the UK to place Malta on the high-risk list for money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

While a raft of reforms undertaken by the MFSA during Cuschieri’s tenure contributed to Malta’s pass grade by Moneyval, the recent greylisting by the FATF is expected to have serious consequences over the coming months, with sources saying that the MFSA has already been informed by a number of companies that they plan to quit Malta and hand in their licences.

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