Auditor General finds MFSA in breach of good governance rules

Malta’s financial services watchdog, the MFSA, has been found in breach of good governance rules, according to a report by the Auditor General.

An audit, based on a 2019 sample, found that public procurement rules were not followed, while agreements costing taxpayers’ hundreds of thousands were dished out without the necessary approval of the Finance Ministry.

Citing a contract given to auditing firm EY, a former employer of Joseph Cuschieri who was CEO of the MFSA at the time, strategic consultancy procured directly by the regulator was done without approval.

“From inception of the service until mid-July 2020, when the audit was in progress, a total amount of €519, 200 was paid to the service provider.” This was done against the rules, the NAO said in its report.

In relation to another example mentioned in the report, the NAO noted that no agreements were in place to regulate the provision of four separate information technology-related services costing €327, 342 in total.

The MFSA engaged two individuals at managerial level costing taxpayers €5,600 a week, once again on the orders of the former CEO. Although these were to be employed for just six months, they continued to bill the regulator for services beyond the expiry date of the agreement.

According to the NAO, it was only last February that the Direct Orders Office at the Finance Ministry informed the MFSA that it was not in a position to grant direct order approval.

In his two-year stint as Head of the MFSA, Cuschieri signed off on over €10 million in direct orders.

Cuschieri was forced to resign following revelations that while CEO of the financial regulator he travelled to Las Vegas on a trip financed by Yorgen Fenech, who is accused of commissioning the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Cuschieri was accompanied by Edwina Licari, a close collaborator of Cuschieri during his time as Head of the Malta Gaming Authority. Soon after Cuschieri moved to the MFSA, Licari was recruited on a €100,000 financial package.

Licari, who regularly accompanied Cuschieri on business trips around the world over the years, is still General Counsel at the MFSA. Unlike her former boss, she was not asked to resign.

                           
                               
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carlo
carlo
1 month ago

Kulljum b’xi skandlu -SHAAME on this muvument korrott and all its untrusted people of trust. How much more scandals can the Maltese GIFA take?

D M Briffa
D M Briffa
1 month ago

If Moneyval don’t grey-list Malta it will look weak and feeble. There is only one correct way forward. Anything less is a fudge and will devalue serious efforts to combat money laundering. Yes, it will be painful for Malta, but the country voted overwhelmingly in favour of corruption in 2017 and the country therefore fully deserves to be punished.

Paul Bonello
Paul Bonello
1 month ago

It is easy to place all blame on Cuschieri especially now that he is gone. The whole Board of Governors, Prof Mamo in primis, and with the exception of Dr Brincat who spoke in time, should assume responsibility and resign. Until that happens, MFSA has no moral authority to be regulator.

viv
viv
1 month ago

A carbon-copy of camorra/‘ndrangheta/cosa nostra practices from the recent past, aided and abetted by a cultish political party.

charles sammut
charles sammut
1 month ago

So how many heads are being chopped off? How many prosecutions? How many fines?

The Swiss
The Swiss
1 month ago
Reply to  charles sammut

On what moral grounds are these people ‘inspecting’ financial institutions and slapping them with fines restrictions and what have you. Shut them down. Rebuild the authority from scratch. So that it can be a real authority and not a system to pay back favors by means of well compensated useless appointments.

Paul Bonello
Paul Bonello
1 month ago
Reply to  charles sammut

Prosecutions? Fines? Resignations? As if; all they care about is their honoraria and bowing of heads by the regulated.

Gaetano Pace
Gaetano Pace
1 month ago

Is it funny ? Bob threatens the judges and warns that they have to face consequences. A lice was being fed our sweat and blood for a long time after his contract elapsed. Other lice sucking our blood and guess what ? Neither the Bob nor the waves on the sea not the Ragusa Ice Cream had the decency to scream about these scandals galore.
The least one is to expect is to have them face the music if not the consequences. All for the sake of justice and decency with the Judges.

Aggie
Aggie
1 month ago

And yet we dont comply with MFSA or the Auditors we are fined huge amounts. The Maltese are making a mockery of abiding by the rules of good conduct and all those in senior posts should be sacked as they were complicit in any underhanded sign offs.

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