Former MFSA chief Joseph Cuschieri appointed Project Green CEO

Joseph Cuschieri replaces Steve Ellul at Project Green with the latter expected to be a Labour Party candidate for the European Parliament election

Joseph Cuschieri
Joseph Cuschieri

Joseph Cuschieri has been appointed chief executive of Project Green, the State agency tasked with government’s flagship policy to carry out urban greening projects.

Cuschieri takes over from Steve Ellul, who is expected to be a Labour Party candidate for the European Parliament election in June.

Project Green is tasked with several greening projects, particularly ambitious plans to build tunnels within built up areas and gardens on top of them.

“We have challenging and exciting times ahead and I am keen to keep building on the good work carried out by my predecessor Steve Ellul. Together with the team at Project Green, I will endeavour to develop and implement innovative and quality green projects which add value and a better environment to the communities in Malta and Gozo,” Cuschieri was quoted saying in a statement released by Project Green.

The appointment is expected to raise eyebrows in light of Cuschieri’s unceremonious resignation from the Malta Financial Services Authority in 2020 following an ethics breach.

Cuschieri left the authority after news emerged in 2020 of a trip he had taken to Las Vegas with then Tumas Group CEO Yorgen Fenech two years earlier.

An internal MFSA review board found that Cuschieri breached ethical guidelines when he went on the all-expenses paid trip with Fenech. The report was only tabled in parliament in March 2023 after the MFSA was ordered by the Data Protection Commissioner to release its findings following a Freedom of Information request.

Cuschieri denied having had a conflict of interest, insisting at the time of the trip he was no longer CEO at the Malta Gaming Authority, which regulated, among others, casinos in which Fenech had a direct interest. Cuschieri, who had just been appointed CEO at the MFSA at the time of the trip, insisted the authority did not regulate any of Fenech's companies. However, the review board disagreed, insisting that Fenech's vast commercial interests made it very probable that a conflict of interest could arise at some point.

Cuschieri is a certified public accountant, specialising in strategy formulation, corporate finance and business development. He also holds a Master's Degree in Business Administration from Henley Management College, UK and an Advanced Diploma in Management Accounting from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, UK.

Cuschieri has held various senior executive and chief positions and directorships within the private and public sectors. More recently he was executive chairman at the Malta Gaming Authority and CEO at the Malta Financial Services Authority.

PN responds

Reacting to the news of Cuschieri's appointment, the Nationalist Party stated that the appointment was a clear indication of Labour's attitude toward public appointments.

Firstly, the PN stated that Ellul's year-long career at Project Green was Labour's way to elevate his profile before becoming an MEP candidate.

The PN also questioned what changed since 2020 that made Cuschieri a viable candidate to head a government agency. The PN concluded by calling for better use of public funds as well as responsible appointments.

The statement was signed by MPs Darren Carabott, Janice Chetcuti, and Eve Borg Bonello.