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New MGA chair gives up private directorship following conflict of interest claims

'She realised she had a conflict of interest and resigned'

Marlene Seychell, the new non-executive chairman of the Malta Gaming Authority

Marlene Seychell, the new non-executive chairman of the Malta Gaming Authority

The new non-executive chairman of the Malta Gaming Authority, Marlene Seychell, has resigned from her post as member of the board of directors of Main Street Shopping Complex plc – a private company that operates a shopping mall in Paola and which hosts a bingo hall licensed by the gaming watchdog, the Times of Malta is informed.

Following reports in the Times of Malta that the person nominated by the Office of the Prime Minister to chair the Gaming Authority could have had a conflict of interest in her role as director of the shopping complex and her new public position, Ms Seychell told Parliament’s Public Appointments Committee that she had been given advice by her lawyer that she did not have any conflict.

However, after pressure from Nationalist MP Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici that her double role could be perceived as a direct conflict of interest, Ms Seychell promised that “if required”, she would give up her directorship.

She did realise that she had a conflict of interest and kept to her promise

The Times of Malta is now informed that Ms Seychell relinquished her post as a director of Main Street Shopping plc and resigned two days after the parliamentary committee unanimously approved her nomination.

Last month, the Times of Malta reported the board on which Ms Seychell sat prior to her public appointment was chaired by entrepreneur Joe Gasan, a co-shareholder of the complex and of Bingo & Royale, a bingo hall which operated from the same complex. The licence of the hall is regulated by the MGA.

Sources close to the gaming industry on Monday said though Ms Seychell – a businesswomen in the fashion industry – may not have been the right person to chair such a regulatory authority, as she has no experience in the field, “she did realise that she had a conflict of interest and kept to her promise”.

The industry described this as “a right step”.

Meanwhile, the other members of the MGA’s board of directors have not yet been nominated and so far are the same that sat on the board under chairman Joseph Cuschieri.

Despite Ms Seychell’s appointment last month, the MGA’s website still shows Mr Cuschieri as the executive chairman. During her parliamentary hearing, Ms Seychell described the fight against money-laundering, as well as safeguarding Malta’s reputation, as her main priorities.

Prior to 2013, Ms Seychell publicly endorsed Labour leader Joseph Muscat and said that she was switching her political allegiance.

 

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