The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) is overlooking the irregular employment of several top officials who were placed on the authority’s payroll by disgraced former CEO Joseph Cuschieri, The Shift can report.
Following revelations of how Cuschieri had bent over backwards to put Edwina Licari on a €120,000 indefinite as the public authority’s General Counsel and discriminated against other fully qualified candidates, several MFSA officials have told The Shift that Licari’s case was not unique.
One MFSA official who contacted The Shift pointed out that all the members of the CEO’s office were handpicked personally by Cuschieri and were placed on attractive salaries without any due process in the form of applications or interviews
Some of the individuals in question are still occupying top positions at the authority.
At the time he was leading the MFSA, Cuschieri filled his office with different personal assistants, plus secretaries, drivers, communications assistants and others.
“It was like a personal fiefdom paid by taxpayers,” one senior MFSA official recounted to The Shift.
On one occasion, Cuschieri had even recruited as one of his many assistants, his driver’s brother, and put him on a €40,000 salary.
“This new personal assistant,” another senior MFSA official said, “was basically handpicked by Cuschieri, who also dictated his employment contract. He did not even bother to follow the rules and just informed the human resources department to start paying his new assistant a wage he had decided on there and then.”
While that assistant left his post after Cuschieri’s resignation, others are still at the authority despite their irregular engagement.
The officials speaking to The Shift said that while many were recruited irregularly, others in high positions – all friends and acquaintances of Cuschieri – were put on the MFSA’s staff list after “staged interviews” conducted mostly by Cuschieri himself.
They said that even though the misconduct was reported to the current management, the situation remains unchanged. No internal investigation has been initiated and “everything is being swept under the carpet”.
Following an internal investigation by former Chief Justice and current Standards Commissioner Joseph Azzopardi, it was established that Cuschieri had advised Edwina Licari about the opening at the MFSA, encouraged her to apply, and only interviewed her although two other suitable applicants had also applied for the position.
He also gave Licari an indefinite contract when the call for the General Counsel position was published as carrying a three-year definite contract.
Asked recently if any remedial action would be taken in view of the report’s conclusions, the MFSA said it won’t be altering Licari’s contract.
The MFSA had hidden the damning report for three years until it was forced to publish its contents after freedom of information requests from The Shift and a ruling by the Information and Data Protection Commissioner.
Cuschieri was forced to step down after the report into revelations that he had travelled with Licari to Las Vegas on a trip financed by businessman-charged-with-murder Yorgen Fenech was published.
People at the MFSA have not received the memo and continue to pig out. Just ask HR who employs family members in the department and boy friends in others, all in senior roles.
The new MFSA CEO Kenneth Farrugia was also handpicked just like disgraced Joe Cuschieri. Christopher Buttigieg has been sidelined for the job. His ego did not earn him the post. Michelle Mizzi Buontempo was not deemed fit for the job either. Is it time to reveal their conflicts of interest?
How can it be possible that Edwina Licari still gets to decide to whom a license is granted or not?!
She doesn’t. Authorisation people do. Stop the tabloid approach.
Don’t underestimate the job actual employees do there. Malta wouldn’t have a financial industry without them.
Segregate leechers, lawyers and politicians from the hard working women and men who do their job honestly and professionally, for far less money then the industry would pay them.