The former MFSA CEO Joseph Cuschieri has denied that he has been asked to refund over €23,000 in extra payments funded by taxpayers despite documents given to The Shift by the financial regulator.
Cuschieri sent a Right of Reply to The Shift through his lawyer Charlon Gouder, who also regularly represents the government. He demanded that his denial is published separately and given the same prominence as the original story.
Clearly, neither Cuschieri nor Gouder realised that the information published by The Shift was gathered through a Freedom of Information request in which documents were supplied by the financial regulator he managed until he had to leave in disgrace after a trip to Las Vegas with Yorgen Fenech, who is accused of commissioning the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The Shift revealed that Cuschieri was taking additional pay for attending board meetings that were part of his duties as CEO. The documentation obtained by The Shift shows that despite Cuschieri’s denial, his former colleagues sitting on the board of governors of the MFSA have asked him to “pay back the honoraria”.
Yet Cuschieri insisted through his lawyer that the article was “false and factually incorrect because there were no unauthorised payments to Cuschieri behind anyone’s back”.
“Nor was there any investigation of abuse of power,” Gouder insisted. “Any suggestions that my client was involved in any wrongdoing are baseless in fact and in law and are only intended to damage Cuschieri’s reputation. My client reserves the right to take further action”.
The Shift stands by its story.
Cuschieri is listed as receiving a total of €23,233 for attending 15 meetings of the MFSA’s board during his short stint at the regulator, documents prove.
The MFSA documents note that “the Board of Governors has requested Mr Joseph Cuschieri to pay back the honoraria”.
In 2018, Cuschieri was handpicked by disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to head the MFSA with a financial package of some €150,000 a year. But Cuschieri decided to take additional pay, reserved only for governors, to attend meetings that were part of his duties without the knowledge of the other members of the board.
The only exception was Prof John Mamo, chairman of the board, who tried to justify the ‘extra’ payments when the other governors got wind of what was going on behind their backs.
As soon as the full board was informed that Cuschieri took his extra payments without a board resolution, his honoraria was stopped, and he was asked to refund over €23,000.
It is not yet known whether the disgraced CEO has returned the money, although it seems unlikely since he is contesting an article on the matter.
Meanwhile, The Shift is informed that Cuschieri has already set up his own private practice to offer prospective clients “tailor-made” services.
Cuschieri resigned from the MFSA’s top post only a day before the conclusions of a ‘Board of Review’ that censured Cuschieri for his actions.
The government is refusing to publish the Board’s final report, which was endorsed by the MFSA.