Abela sidelines disgraced CEO in new Project Green announcement

Cuschieri paid €96,000 despite a history of scandals


Last week, Prime Minister Robert Abela announced a new initiative from Project Green to turn several plots of land into public parks, but the recently appointed CEO of the agency, Joseph Cuscheri, did not give any presentation or address journalists and was not even seated near his boss during the public event.

When government agencies announce new projects, it is customary for the CEO to address the press conference with an overview of the project before the prime minister speaks, as was the case when the agency was headed by Steve Ellul, now a Labour candidate in the coming MEP elections.

As Abela announced that the government would turn the four plots of public land into gardens “instead of turning them into blocks of flats”, Cuschieri was left sitting several seats away in silence.

This apparent snub and departure from precedents in such matters is despite Abela appointing Cuscheri into the role just one month ago.

Cuschieri has €96,000 contract while running a private business

Cuschieri was the former head of the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) but was forced to resign in 2020 after a series of scandals were revealed.

These included the fact that together with Edwina Licari, a lawyer he appointed inside his office, he went on an all-expenses-paid Las Vegas holiday financed by Yorgan Fenech, the man now on trial for allegedly masterminding the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Cuschieri was found guilty of breaching the code of ethics by an internal inquiry.

It also came to light that during his time at MFSA, Cuschieri spent millions of euros without any accountability and even took payments he was not entitled to.

Despite this, in January, Abela agreed to Energy Minister Miriam Dalli’s nomination of Cuschieri to be the new CEO of Project Green. Dalli and Cuschieri are old friends, with the former also employing his 24-year-old daughter, Katrina, as her consultant.

According to his three-year contract, seen by The Shift through a Freedom of Information request, the disgraced CEO will now take home €96,000 a year from the position despite not having a fixed place of work.

Contrary to a promise made by Abela upon his election that government CEOs would not be allowed to carry out additional work in the private sector, Cuschieri has been allowed to continue with his private business consultancy.

No watchdog despite €30 million budget

While Project Green is expected to disburse some €30 million in government funding this year, as budgeted by the Finance Ministry, Cuschieri has no board to report to, as usually happens according to good governance rules binding public entities.

The Shift asked the ministry to name the chairman and the board of directors of Project Green, tasked with setting the agency’s policies and observing their execution, but they admitted that one does not exist.

Despite his history at the MFSA and the Malta Gaming Authority, where he built a reputation for spending public money in breach of rules, Cuschieri only has to answer to Dalli on the disbursement of the agency’s budget.


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2 months ago

That’s the problem with the ever returning ‘bad apples’ when new ones don’t grow because the tree from which they shall grow is already rotten.

One might rather wonder why the PM has ‘rehabilitated’ the disgraced person in the first place, when that person is such an embarrassment to him in public?

It looks to me, that in all that quagmire the PM is in himself, he’s obviously lost the ability of telling one thing from another.

What adds up to all that is the fact that nearly all high rank PLers who had the ‘chance’ to get government appointments, disgraced themselves in due course of their terms. Whether as CEO or ministers, the system ‘might have made’ them to become what they have ended up with.

Still, one who is to remain at the very top of all the disgraced former PL high ranks, enjoys the support of his followers and is neither a disgrace nor an embarrassment to the present PM.

Whether it is this article or any other, it always shows that the PL, thanks to Joseph Muscat, has locked up itself into a system from where there is no exit door which they could open themselves. Therefore, it would be for the electorate to ‘release’ them by voting the PL out of power. But that road is closed as well, because the PL is clinging on to power what ever it takes and they certainly know why. Not just for the benefits of all the high PLers. There is also another thing the whole world knows about and I don’t have to repeat the name of the person itself.

2 months ago

That’s pretty funny! Such incompetents…

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