MFSA scandal: Details emerge on Cuschieri’s intervention to give Licari €100,000 job

MFSA refuses to state whether Cuschieri and Licari are still being paid

 

Edwina Licari, the “self-suspended” General Counsel of the MFSA, was recruited to join the financial regulator and put on a €100,000 financial package through the personal intervention of CEO Joseph Cuschieri, The Shift can reveal.

He had also dictated her terms of employment to the organisation’s human resources department, with very few details given to the Board of Governors.

The Shift revealed that Licari had accompanied Cuschieri on a trip to Las Vegas funded by Yorgen Fenech who is accused of commissioning the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. At the time, Licari was still working at the Malta Gaming Authority, which raised questions on a conflict of interest since Fenech is a major player in the sector.

Fenech was involved in more than 60 companies, some directly regulated by the MFSA or the MGA, up until the time of his arrest in November 2019.

Members of the MFSA’s Board of Governors recounted, on condition of anonymity, how Licari was given “red carpet treatment” in the recruitment process held by the MFSA:

“We were not aware at the time that Ms Licari was already working for Mr Cuschieri at the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA). However, we had immediately smelt a rat in the way her process was expeditiously handled by the CEO.”

While normal recruitment processes were ignored, including the various stages normally applied to determine the best candidate, Licari had to sit for only one interview – conducted by Cuschieri himself.

“Ms Licari was the only candidate interviewed for the job despite the fact that this was one of the most highly remunerated positions in the MFSA and which should have attracted an avalanche of applications. Strangely, this did not happen,” sources told The Shift.

In addition: “It results that Ms Licari was also so confident she would get the job that she had already resigned from her role at the MGA when attending the interview with Mr Cuschieri and Prof John Mamo, the chairman of the Board, together with another senior MFSA official selected by Mr Cuschieri.”

Both the Board and the human resources department, which usually offers a contract according to written procedures, were overruled when it came to establishing Licari’s conditions of employment – again, as a result of the direct intervention of Cuschieri.

“Following Mr Cuschieri’s intervention, Ms Licari was given a remuneration package well above that which is normally given to new recruits in such a high position. She was also treated better than other officers in her grade who had been on the job for years.”

The new General Counsel role in the MFSA was only legalised through amendments to the law published in March 2019. Yet Licari was recruited six months earlier – in September 2018.

She was also appointed to the Board of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU).

As Malta’s financial services industry awaits a Moneyval assessment on whether to greylist the country, the regulator’s CEO and its top legal official have been suspended pending an investigation on their behaviour in clear breach of the MFSA’s code of ethics as well as that of the European Central Bank.

It was announced that both Cuschieri and Licari “self-suspended” themselves – a new term created.

MFSA rules make it clear that employees, particularly the most senior of the organisation, cannot accept such gifts which “give the impression that they can be influenced by considerations of personal gain in the performance of their functions or official duties.”

Despite clear rules in the MFSA’s code of conduct, which the MFSA is refusing to publish, Cuschieri denied breaching the code despite admitting that he, together with Licari, went on the Las Vegas trip financed by Fenech.

The MFSA did not address questions by The Shift on findings published last week showing Cuschieri was pocketing the honoraria reserved for members of the Board of Governors without the latter’s authorisation, topping up his €140,000 package as CEO.

The Authority did not reply to questions on the amount Cuschieri received for attending Board meetings until this was stopped when the Governors got wind of this irregularity. The MFSA was also asked whether Cuschieri had been asked to refund back the money.

Also, the MFSA would not say whether Cuschieri and Licari were still receiving a salary following their “self-suspension”.

On Tuesday, the MFSA said in a statement that former Chief Justice Joe Azzopardi and lawyer Mark Simiana have been tasked to determine whether Cuschieri and Licari had breached the rules.

The MFSA said that the independent panel is “to carry out the assessment process in an expeditious manner”.

                           
                               
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Prefer not to say
Prefer not to say
24 days ago

This is the same ‘authority’ that goes around fining or issuing warnings to financial institutions on absolute silly matters with the excuse that they ‘are raising the bar’. Or maybe they need the extra cash to pay these characters? No wonder many operators are fleeing the island.

Patricia Richards
Patricia Richards
24 days ago

Another sleazy episode in the cesspool of Malta’s institutes and its especially dire , as Malta is under the intense scrutiny of Moneyval which will effect the country’s financial reputation if we are greylisted.

With this sort of dubious behavior by the CEO and senior employee of the MFSA, our already sullied reputation due to Muscat and his co-conspirators in the sleazy deals and being associated with the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia will be damaged further in the worlds financial institutes.

Whilst the investigation by former Chief Justice Joe Azzopardi and lawyer Mark Simiana into Cuschieri and Licari is concluded, their assets should be seized and scrutinised.

Cuschieri and Licari “self-suspended” themselves , What does this mean, are they still being paid their exorbitant salaries and benefits?this in itself is insulting, if true why should they benefit whilst under investigation into corruption.

Cikku
Cikku
24 days ago

one should also ask how FTI was also commissioned to be the change that the regulator needed? it seems that this was also an outright direct order which has resulted in non other than crippling the financial services industry but kicking or forcing out honest players and protecting those harbouring the interests of politicians, money launderers and PEPs from Angola and other non reputable jurisidctions.

KD Far
KD Far
24 days ago

I suspect and smell affairs more fishy than these two just being colleagues.

MCamilleri
MCamilleri
24 days ago
Reply to  KD Far

I think even Moneyval would have a footnote on this, considering it was such common knowledge.

Charles Sammut
Charles Sammut
24 days ago

One wonders what hidden “qualifications” this Lickari possesses to be given such a highly paid position and what other ” positions” she was given?!?!

Henry s Pace
Henry s Pace
24 days ago

‘ both Cuschieri and Licari “self-suspended” themselves  ‘
In all labour laws nowhere it exists that employees can suspend themselves from work.

carlo
carlo
24 days ago

Hallelin ta flus il-poplu, pero’ QATTma sdtennejt li john mamo ikun prezrnti ghal dawn l-iskandli. Another ars licker – shame on on john.

Henry s Pace
Henry s Pace
24 days ago
Reply to  carlo

Mamo must resign.

carlo
carlo
24 days ago

It is a real pity that the honest hard workers cannot understand how this corrupt lot are screwing them – we’re talking of millions on a yearly basis distributed only to the untrusted people of trust, to the assassins and capitalists bhal gasan, db, apap bologna, jportelli u ohrajn waqt li l-povru haddiem Malti jifrah b’xi flixkun inbid, xi ftit laraning jew xi roly roly. Shame on the muvument korrott min ruh ommu – u ghajb ukoll ghall dawk kollha li qieghdin jisirqu lil Malta – mill-akbar wiehed /wahda fil-qorti sa l-anqas wiehed/a li xogholhom hu li jxandru propoganda qarrieqa biex ikomplu jistaghanew. F’hiex kellu jigi dal-pajjiz.

MCamilleri
MCamilleri
24 days ago

The Board is a joke, they don’t need an investigation. They shouldn’t be talking on condition of anonymity. In a normal country they would be loud and proud about this shocking behaviour. Everyone in the field knows about Cuschieri and Licari, why beat around the bush?

Dr Joe Inguanez
Dr Joe Inguanez
23 days ago
Reply to  MCamilleri

Shame has been erased from our dictionary… and these are all Professionals ! What are we to expect from culprits. I hope Prof Mamo issues a statement… secrecy breeds mafia.

It is I, Leclerc
It is I, Leclerc
20 days ago

Our MFSA CEO has been raising the bar in more ways than one.

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