The board of inquiry investigating how Malta Financial Services Authority General Counsel Edwina Licari was recruited to the new position has confirmed former CEO Joseph Cuschieri broke the rules to accommodate her.
The inquiry by former Chief Justice Joseph Azzopardi and lawyer Mark Simiana found that Cuschieri had alerted Licari to the vacancy for the top legal position at the financial services regulator.
It also found that although three applicants had applied for the position, Cuschieri only interviewed Licari.
It was also Cuschieri who dictated Licari’s terms and conditions, according to the inquiry, and he changed all the goalposts to recruit his former colleague over from the Malta Gaming Authority.
Not only had Cuschieri created the position of General Counsel specifically for Licari, but while the position was initially advertised as a three-year fixed-term duration, Licari ended up with an indefinite contract.
The inquiry found that three people had applied for the vacancy and that “all three applicants should have been interviewed because the other applicants were eligible to apply and had sufficient qualifications and experience to be considered. Besides this, the surprisingly low number of applicants did not justify the shortlisting.”
The board also noted that Cuschieri admitted to having “alerted Licari” to the vacancy.
Noting that Licari’s recruitment had also contravened an Office of the Prime Minister directive when Cuschieri had not bothered to ask for approval before changing the rules, the inquiry found that “it also appears that the call for applications referred to a three-year contract, whereas Licari was employed on an indefinite contract”.
The Shift can confirm it was Cuschieri who gave written instructions for what had been advertised as a three-year to be changed into a far more desirable indefinite contract.
The Shift can also confirm that it was Cuschieri who dictated, also in writing, that Licari be placed on an €85,000 basic salary with a 15% performance bonus, a special car allowance of €6,500 per annum, a €4,000 expense allowance and a 5% annual basic salary increase.
This amounts to a remuneration of around €120,000, which will keep rising indefinitely until Licari leaves the MFSA.
The board concluded that while Licari herself had done nothing wrong, Cuschieri had broken recruitment rules to fit her into the MFSA, which he had joined only a few months earlier.
Licari is still employed as the MFSA’s General Counsel, and it is unclear what the MFSA is doing to rectify the irregularities the inquiry found in her contract.
Cuschieri and Licari had already worked together at the Malta Gaming Authority for years and travelled the world together, attending conferences and business meetings at taxpayers’ expense.
Shortly after disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat handpicked Cuschieri as MFSA CEO, Licari tendered her resignation from the MGA and applied for the position at the MFSA.
Cuschieri chose Licari for the position after just one short interview he handled with then-Chairman John Mamo.
Cuschieri resigned from the MFSA in 2020 shortly after the inquiry into the trip he and Licari took to Las Vegas with Yorgen Fenech and Charlene Bianco Farrugia, the secretary of former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri. The trip was entirely financed by Fenech.
Cuschieri, who was kept on the government’s payroll, insists he did nothing wrong.
Edwina Licari is still part of the Executive Committee of MFSA. She gets to decide who gets a license or not. She also cancels licenses. To add insult to injury, she also imposes fines on subject persons! That is the transparency and credibility of a rotten institution. She is joined in doing so by Christopher Buttigieg who has enjoyed a record number of promotions since Labour got in power. Declare your interests, if you have a shred of personal self-respect.
Unfortunately this has been the normality in the Labour Party’s movement!
What a shame. That who you know is more important that what you know.
I don’t see any problem with Licari earning more than was budgeted, just send the difference in her emoluments for personal settlement to Cuschieri.
Than we’ll see if how much he considers her to be really worth it!
It seems that where the heart goes, the feet will follow.
Is it a ‘quiid pro quo’ deal, after all? That would not be very far from the truth, would it!
Mafia bil – pedigree…..
What webs of deceit they wove and of course we are told by the PM and his government ad nauseam that the institutions are working and that transparency is a cornerstone of the undertakings given to the Council of Europe, the FATF to get them off their backs and allow the cronyism to continue unabated.
Just another nail in the coffins of this government, the Attorney General and Commissioner Gafa and every single misnamed “ proper authority “ if there is any justice and sense of propriety left in the country.
If you pay peanuts you get monkeys . Unless there was some conflict of interest – such as a personal relationship- I see nothing wrong in engaging someone he knew was competent
Yes and there was nothing wrong in having her move with him in his world travel so he could train her on the job
Nothing wrong unless the main scope was another
President Vella is surely hiding somewhere after reading these interesting facts!