Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 November, 2020 at 9:19 pm by Andre Camilleri
The CEO of the Malta Financial Services Authority, Joe Cuschieri, has resigned.
Cuschieri was the subject of a review by an independent panel after it emerged that he had flown to Las Vegas with businessman Yorgen Fenech in 2018.
Finance Minister Clyde Caruana accepted his resignation. He was informed about the decision by the Board of Governors of the MFSA.
The Finance Ministry said Caruana “accepted Mr Cushieri’s resignation and thanked him for the work he has done in this institution with regard to strengthening the regulatory aspect, modernizing the structures of the authority, and carrying out reforms in the MFSA in recent years.”
In his letter to the MFSA chairman, Cuschieri said he took the decision to resign after a period of “deep reflection.”
“In the circumstances, it is both in the interest of the Authority and myself to part ways and avoid any unnecessary media attention and external pressures at such a critical juncture,” he said.
Cuschieri added that his resignation should, “in no way be interpreted as an admission of any wrongdoing or misconduct on my part.”
The MFSA said earlier this month it had set up an independent panel, made up of former Chief Justice Joe Azzopardi and independent lawyer Dr Mark Simiana.
Joe Cuschieri and Edwina Licari, the authority’s general counsles, had suspended themselves after it emerged that they had travelled to the US in May 2018, on invitation by businessman Yorgen Fenech. At the time, Cuschieri had just taken up his role at the MFSA after he left the Malta Gaming Authority, while Licari was still serving as legal advisor at the MGA. She joined the MFSA a few months later. Licari has resigned from the board of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU), but there has been no word about her future at the financial services watchdog.
Cuschieri said he had travelled with Fenech to advise him on regulatory matters. Fenech, back then a director of Tumas Group, which owns a casino company, was reportedly interested in investing in the United States. He told The Malta Independent that he had not been paid by Fenech but would not go into detail about the kind of advice he provided.
A fourth person, Charlene Bianco Farrugia, who was former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri’s personal assistant, also went on the trip.
The MFSA board had said it would take the necessary action after the independent panel concluded its review.