The Malta Independent 25 June 2024, Tuesday
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PN calls for more transparency from MFSA after publication of report into ex-CEO’s Las Vegas trip

Thursday, 30 March 2023, 13:53 Last update: about 2 years ago

The Nationalist Party has criticised the lack of accountability and transparency shown in the scandal concerning the MFSA’s ex-CEO’s trip to Las Vegas with Yorgen Fenech, after the full report was published on Wednesday – almost two-and-a-half years after it was completed.

Malta's financial services sector has been hit by yet another scandal as details of a luxury trip to Las Vegas by the former Chief Executive of the Maltese Financial Services Authority (MFSA) and his colleague Edwina Licari have come to light, PN spokesperson for Finance Jerome Caruana Cilia said in a press statement on Thursday.

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Caruana Cilia criticised the lack of transparency and accountability shown by the Labour Government.

The report revealed that the MFSA’s former CEO Joseph Cuschieri was found to have breached the authority’s ethics by accepting to go on the trip.

It was revealed that the former CEO was the special guest of Yorgen Fenech, who is facing trial for his alleged involvement in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, and that the trip was paid for by Fenech.

Despite efforts by the media to obtain the information, the MFSA had initially refused to release it and only published the report after it was ordered to do so by the Information and Data Protection Commissioner.

“However, following a lengthy legal battle, details of the trip have now been made public”, he said.

The Board of Governors of the MFSA, which includes former Finance Minister Edward Scicluna, who appointed Joseph Cuschieri as Chief Executive of the MFSA, has been forced to reveal the shortcomings committed by Cuschieri, the statement noted.

“The report published by the MFSA reveals that despite a salary package of over €140,000 per year, Cuschieri failed to perform his duties in an ethical manner. During his tenure, the government was forced to provide an additional €25 million to cover the increased costs incurred by the MFSA,” the PN said.

The report also includes details of Licari's involvement in the Las Vegas trip. She was forced to resign by a Governor of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) when the media revealed the details of her trip with Fenech.

The fact that Licari remains a member of the MFSA's Executive Committee however raises questions about the MFSA's commitment to transparency and accountability, the PN said.

Licari was found not to have breached ethics although the board noted that her trip to Las Vegas did not fall within its scope as Licari was, at the time, still employed by the MGA and held that her presence on the trip was authorised by the MGA and was travelling as a representative of the authority.

 Caruana Cilia called for greater transparency in the financial services sector to rebuild the trust “that has been broken by the Government.”

The party has criticized the government's lack of transparency and accountability, which it says has contributed to the erosion of trust in the sector.

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