Prime Minister stands by MFSA CEO as Joe Brincat goes to Auditor General

Joseph Muscat side-steps controversy: 'God forbid if the Prime Minister or any minister tells the MFSA what it has to do.'

Joseph Muscat says he has full trust in the MFSA's chairman, board and CEO after authority governor and former Labour deputy leader Joe Brincat filed a judicial letter against the CEO
Joseph Muscat says he has full trust in the MFSA's chairman, board and CEO after authority governor and former Labour deputy leader Joe Brincat filed a judicial letter against the CEO

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that he had full confidence in the Malta Financial Services Authority, its chairman, the board and CEO and insisted it was an independent entity.

“With the rule of law, God forbid if the Prime Minister or any minister tells the MFSA what it has to do. I have full confidence in MFSA, the board and its CEO,” he said in comments to the media.

His comments come in the midst of Labour veteran and MFSA governor Joe Brincat filing a judicial letter against the authority's CEO Joseph Cuschieri over what he decried as irresponsible spending by the MFSA on golden handshakes.

Brincat's judicial letter was linked to the dismissal of the MFSA's chief operating officer by Cuschieri.

Brincat this morning raised the case with the Auditor General. In a statement circulated to the media, the veteran lawyer said that he was invited for a meeting at the National Audit Office, during which he forwarded details of the case that are not in the public domain.

Brincat was informed by the Auditor General that as is normal practice, the matter will be investigated in due course when pending audits are concluded.

Brincat wrote: “This is a crime, as the public funds which you are administering should have been used for specific purposes and not as a blank cheque for you.”

However, the MFSA was also at the centre of controversy after its human resources chief benefitted from an early retirement package, only to be employed by another State entity, the Malta Business Registry. The registry was hived off from the MFSA earlier this year.

After addressing the public service annual conference on Friday, Muscat insisted the MFSA enjoyed full independence and that neither he nor any members of his government would meddle in its affairs.

The Nationalist Party has asked for an urgent debate on the matter within the Public Accounts Committee and chided the MFSA for the “squandering public funds” in defiance of good governance.

In a statement earlier this week, the MFSA said it would not comment in public on the issues raised.

Sources close to the authority have insisted the chief operating officer was dismissed and no golden handshake was paid.

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