A successful fashion retailer has been proposed by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to become chairwoman of the Malta Gaming Authority, Times of Malta is informed.

The MGA supervises hundreds of companies employing thousands of employees in an industry that accounts for about 12 per cent of the country’s GDP.

Marlene Seychell, 54, who until a few months ago owned a fashion import business and retail shops around the island, was unknown in the gaming industry, operators said. Her nomination took everyone by surprise, operators said.

“We have nothing against Ms Seychell as she has apparently built a successful fashion business,” a top gaming industry insider said.

“However, at such a crucial time when the industry is under attack due to a perception of money-laundering infiltration and lax supervision, we need someone more familiar with the industry to lead,” he said.

Apart from running her business, in 2013, soon after Labour’s return to power, Ms Seychell had been appointed to sit on the board of directors of Malta Enterprise by Economy Minister Chris Cardona.

She had also addressed the Labour Party’s extraordinary general conference before the 2013 general election declaring she was a switcher and one of Dr Muscat’s new supporters.

A switcher and one of Dr Muscat’s new supporters

Times of Malta is informed that Ms Seychell, who sold her business a few months ago, was not Dr Muscat's first choice after the MGA’s former executive chairman and CEO, Joseph Cuschieri, was named chief executive officer at the Malta Financial Services Authority.

Government sources said a number of individuals offered the job at the MGA declined.

“Many did not want to be associated with the MGA for the time being as there are too many eyes on the industry, particularly following reports of Mafia infiltration,” the sources said.

Among those approached were people already involved in the running of other government bodies, they noted.

Ms Seychell’s nomination will now have to be considered by a parliamentary committee before which she will have to appear. Times of Malta was told she is being briefed on the gaming industry by top MGA officials in preparation for the hearing.

The Public Appointments Committee, chaired by former Labour tourism minister Edward Zammit Lewis, has still to announce the date of the hearing.


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