Prime Minister must remove financial services chief following revelations of Las Vegas trip with Yorgen Fenech, PN says

Nationalist Party says Malta Financial Services Authority CEO Joseph Cuschieri must be removed after he travelled on an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas with Yorgen Fenech in May 2018

MFSA CEO Joseph Cuschieri
MFSA CEO Joseph Cuschieri

Joseph Cuschieri must be removed from chief executive of Malta’s financial services regulator, the Nationalist Party said.

The PN called on the Prime Minister to remove Cuschieri after Times of Malta reported yesterday that the MFSA CEO had travelled to Las Vegas with murder suspect Yorgen Fenech in May 2018. The trip was paid for by Fenech.

Cuschieri told the newspaper he had been invited by Fenech to advise on regulatory matters related to gaming, a sector he had just exited. Fenech is a casino owner.

At the time, Cuschieri already occupied the role of CEO at the MFSA after stepping down from his role as CEO at the Malta Gaming Authority.

Cuschieri has insisted there was no conflict of interest or ethical breach given that he had already moved away from the MGA.

Fenech’s ties to 17 Black and his link to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia were not yet known at the time.

The PN said that Cuschieri’s all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas, where he acted as consultant to Fenech, was another blow to Malta’s reputation.

“The last thing the financial services sector in Malta needs is to have a shadow cast on the regulator. Cuschieri failed to publicly declare these facts, despite the developments of recent months, and it had to be the Times’s journalists who uncovered these shocking facts that continue to confirm how the institutions were hijacked by those who had an interest in weakening them,” the PN said.

The PN said Robert Abela has to declare when he got to know about Cuschieri’s trip. The Prime Minister must immediately ask all the chairpersons of public entities to publicly declare every conflict of interest that shackles them from carrying out their duties.

“Robert Abela has to act to show he is determined in fixing the damage caused to Malta’s reputation,” the PN said, adding the Prime Minister must remove Cuschieri.

Meanwhile, rule of law NGO Repubblika called on Cuschieri to resign his MFSA role or be removed. 

The NGO insisted that the mere fact that Cuschieri accepted to travel to Las Vegas in a trip paid by Fenech and be hosted in luxury casinos while running the MFSA was “a serious breach of professional ethics”.

Repubblika said what had happened was disgusting and the government had a duty to act. It noted that this all-expenses paid trip was a continuation of others which Fenech had with former police assistant commissioner Silvio Valletta and his handing of expensive Petrus wine and a Bulgari watch to then prime minister Joseph Muscat.

It called on government to investigate how many public officers had travelled with Fenech.