The top official of Malta’s financial regulator (MFSA) told parliament that he would not open his own company in a greylisted country, such as Malta.
Prof John Mamo, 75, a leading businessman, made the statement during his appearance before the Public Appointments Committee, seeking his re-confirmation as the MFSA’s chairman.
Admitting that his last year in office has been taken over by the problems caused by Malta’s greylisting, he stressed the need for the country to emerge from that as soon as possible.
“This is causing us problems. If I had to open my own company, I would definitely not go to a greylisted jurisdiction. That is so obvious,” he said.
He admitted that very few companies are deciding to come to the island, despite downplaying the number of companies that have left.
Passing the onus of the greylisting onto other entities, including what he called the “tax evasion problem”, which he said stands with the finance ministry, Mamo said he was satisfied that, from the MFSA’s point of view, the regulator is up to the standards required.
Mamo described MFSA CEO Joe Gavin’s decision to storm out of an interview with The Times of Malta as “a comedy of errors”. He stressed that it was the MFSA that had invited The Times of Malta for an interview so Gavin could not understand why the journalist was trying to grill him.
“He is Irish and bad-tempered. But the CEO should not be judged on a shoddy (biċċa) interview,” Mamo said. He also criticised the newspaper for running the interview. He claimed it was originally agreed that the whole interview would be scrapped.
Mamo, who has chaired the MFSA for three years, was approved for another one-year term through the support of government representatives. Opposition members voted against.
PN MP Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici said that, just a year ago, the Opposition had voted against Mamo’s nomination due to the scandals hitting the regulator on his watch. “We see no reason to change our position.”
While Mamo was at the helm, the MFSA was hit by scandals at its top echelons including former CEO Joseph Cuschieri and General Consul Edwina Licari – still in her position – outed for going on holidays financed by businessmen Yorgen Fenech.
Millions were also spent through direct orders with no accountability while Mamo approved Cuschieri getting extra remuneration to attend meetings that were part of his responsibilities.