Opposition withdraws backing for MFSA Chair

"No regrets and no apologies at all" - MFSA chairman John Mamo.

 

The Opposition withdrew its backing for the chairman of the Malta Financial Services Authority yesterday following a poor performance by John Mamo during a parliamentary committee meeting considering whether he will retain the post for another three years.

The prime minister has nominated Mamo for a second term at the helm of the financial services regulator, but this time round that support was withdrawn as the chairman was grilled by Opposition MPs about a stream of scandals that have rocked the MFSA on his watch.

It was only through the support of government MPs on the committee, who command a majority, that Mamo’s nomination was approved.

Mamo defends the former CEO

The 74-year-old, a respected businessman and a law professor, was clearly unprepared for the grilling, at times even getting the basics wrong, like the name of the permanent secretary at the finance ministry.

Mamo shrugged off suggestions that the MFSA’s reputation continued to suffer on his watch and dismissed concerns about how former CEO Joseph Cuschieri had run the ‘independent’ institution.

“It was only the incidents that we had with Pilatus and Satabank which put the spotlight on us, as on a national level there weren’t any major problems,” Mamo said, prompting the PN’s Shadow Justice Minister Karol Aquilina to point out that a prime minister was forced to resign.  Mamo seemed to be “living in another country,” Aquilina said.

Defending Cuschieri, Mamo insisted that “his CEO” was very competent and someone who “installed massive changes at the MFSA”. Mamo disagreed that Ccuschieri had exceeded his authority or abused his position.

Former MFSA CEO Joseph Cuschieri and Edwina Licari who is still retained by the financial services regulator.

Cuschieri’s extra payments ‘with Muscat’s blessing’

Confirming reports by The Shift, Mamo said that Cuschieri did in fact ask to be paid the honoraria reserved for board members attending meetings, on top of his financial package of €150,000.

Mamo, admitting that it was a mistake to agree with this, sought the consent of then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and former Finance Minister Edward Scicluna.

Asked why, as the chairman of an independent regulator, he needed to consult the prime minister, Mamo said: “It is the government who appoints governors”.

Following resistance by the other board members, the finance ministry told Mamo the CEO was not entitled to receive extra payments, and this went against public service procedures.

Payments to Cuschieri were stopped and the board asked the former CEO to return the money he took, Mamo told the committee. He did not say whether Cuschieri has in fact paid back the €23,300 he took in extra payments.

It is important to note that in a Right of Reply sent to The Shift by Cuschieri through his lawyer Charlon Gouder, the former CEO denied the facts revealed by this news portal, now also confirmed by Mamo.

A ‘vavata’ by Cuschieri and Licari

Asked to explain the breach of ethics by Cuschieri and Edwina Licari when travelling to Las Vegas with Yorgen Fenech, who is accused of commissioning the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Mamo said the two had been friends for a long time and theirs was a childish transgression (“vavata”).

“When I got to know about this, as Cuschieri didn’t tell me anything about it until it appeared in the media, I immediately said that this was not on and was a breach of ethics. However, at the time, Fenech was not yet accused of the death of Caruana Galizia,” he said.

“What Cuschieri and Edwina did was an error of judgment on their part. However, we are all human and there were many instances where Ministers go on boats as so on,” he insisted.

“This was a silly mistake (“ċuċata”),” Mamo said.

‘No regrets and no apologies at all’

Karol Aquilina drew Mamo’s attention to the fact that Caruana Galizia was “killed”, not ‘died’, and he asked why the inquiry on Cuschieri and Licari remained unpublished.

“There are certain things that should not be published so that the MFSA’s reputation is protected,” Mamo said, while simultaneously saying he was all for transparency.

Insisting that money laundering was not something unique to Malta, he assured MPs there was nothing he regretted about his conduct. “No regrets and no apologies at all,” he boldly told MPs.

The four government MPs, including chairman Anthony Agius Decelis, all voted in favour of the prime minister’s nomination without asking Mamo a single question.

For the Opposition, Karol Aquilina, Carm Mifsud Bonnici and Robert Cutajar voted against Mamo’s second term.

                           
                               
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Paul Pullicino
Paul Pullicino
28 days ago

It would appear that the Republic is dead. We are a monarchy of pigs reigning in the guise of an EU member and where the peoples’ treasury is plundered at the pleasure of a ruling elite and their lackeys.

carlo
carlo
28 days ago

john mamo isthi ghid li dawn vavati; min jaf kieku xi mpejgat milli kellek misslek il-but x’kont taghmel? pero’ dawn mhux flusek izda flus il-haddiem – ma ntikx tort ghaliex int wiehed min the untrusted people of trust. Niftakrek teqred met kien hemm Gvern Nazzjonalista u kellek ragun, pero’ issa ghalaqt halek ghaliex imlewulek bil-flus, u addio l-onesta’ u l-korruzzjoni li kont tghajjat biha – issa mhux korruzzjoni sfrenata biss hawn izda nzidu maghha l-assassinju ta gurnalista martri li kienet l-instrument biex inkixfu l-hnezrijiet li kienu ghaddejjin – spiccajtu tehelsu minnha u ghadna qieghdin nistennew GUSTIZZJA.. veru li dan il-pajjiz mimli ipokriti – min seraq is-soldi ntbaghat il-habs jew tilef hobzu, u min seraq u ghadu jisraq il-miljuni nhalluh bi kwietu u niddefenduh. Din il-bicca blata mafjuza qatt ma tista’ tiehu r-ruh sakem ikun hemm muvument korrott mmexxi minn wara l-kwinti mill-akbar pm KORROTT LI QATT RAT MALTA. Shame on you all who support this outrageous corruption – sakemm il-poplu jibqa kwiet u ma jinzilx fit-toroq jitlob gustizzja mill-hnezrijiet li saru u li gadhom isiru.

philip incorvaja
philip incorvaja
27 days ago
Reply to  carlo

I’m disappointed that the opposition haven’t raised hell about this scandalous reappointment. Cuschieri should be made to reimburse the money he defrauded. The bastards get away with murder, literally.

Charles
Charles
27 days ago

These buggers are so lucky. The virus is killing innocent people but helping these buggers. Thats why people dont go out to protest.

Simon Oosterman
Simon Oosterman
28 days ago

Let’s hope that Moneyval takes note or nothing will change anytime soon. We clearly cannot help ourselves.

Iain Morrison
Iain Morrison
28 days ago

Surely we have reached the point where it is perfectly reasonable to regard anyone endorsed by the government as a crook. Especially if the job involves anything financial….

Godfrey Leone Ganado
Godfrey Leone Ganado
28 days ago

I never expected a person of his stature, not to know the meaning and objective of being a Chairman of an Independent Board in an Independent Regulatory Institution of a key sector to Malta’s economic success, based on Reputation, Reputation and REPUTATION.
I ask: how could he be so subservient/spineless to seek an opinion from the political class with corrupt and suspicious credentials, when he, together with his board, were solely responible for decisions impacting on the Authority’s Administrative policies, and the Authority’s approved financial budget, even more, when the Authority was, and probably still is, struggling to avoid financial losses.
Is a situation like this, encouraging the Prime Minister to tick the box and acquire a ‘chiaro, scuro’ rating from Moneyval, with a perceived white listing in a fool’s paradise?

Franci Darmanin
Franci Darmanin
27 days ago

I don’t know this guy. What stature? His testimony reads like a summary of : Teach Yourself To Become A Pliable Puppet. Even Pinocchio stood taller, at least he was a child, not a grown educated octogenarian. Not even in the classroom back in the 1960s did I ever hear such feeble arguments for breaking the rules.

Franci Darmanin
Franci Darmanin
27 days ago

Though inclined to I wouldn’t spit on this sloth’s face. It would be a waste of spit. RIP Nation State Malta. Back to the Fiefdom. Peasants.

Geatno Pace
Geatno Pace
27 days ago

The four Governmen MP`s including the chairman Anthony Agius Decelis all voted in favour. This time round Il Cabinet rega ghamilha mhux taz zebgha rega ghamilha. They voted in favour of Konrad, Joseph and Keith and Certified Corruption and Certified the most corrupt Prime Minister in the World. Now by their negation they are once again voting for corruption, in favour of corruption. These are the scum that cried they had been betrayed. Now they are betraying themselves, their office, their oath of office and the Maltese Nation at large, Ahna Lkoll. YOU betrayed us yet again in favour of corruption and corrupt practices.

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