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Handpicked boss of MFSA given €11,500 monthly salary

Joseph Cuschieri remains director of two state entities

One of Joseph Cuschieri’s recent tweets. Right: Joseph Cuschieri’s total annual financial package could reach at least €138,000.

One of Joseph Cuschieri’s recent tweets. Right: Joseph Cuschieri’s total annual financial package could reach at least €138,000.

The newly appointed chief executive officer of Malta’s independent financial services regulator, the Malta Financial Services Authority, has been given a basic salary of €115,000 a year.

That’s in addition to a raft of perks and fringe benefits which push Joseph Cuschieri’s financial package to more than €11,500 a month, nearly three times the salary of the Prime Minister.

At the same time, Mr Cuschieri, 50, who until a few weeks ago was the CEO of the Malta Gaming Authority, has retained his role as a government-appointed director of two State companies, Projects Malta and Safe City Malta Ltd. This despite the fact that in his new role he is obliged to act independently of the government and any of its ministries.

Mr Cuschieri was selected for the post directly by the Office of the Prime Minister and no public call was issued.

Replying to questions from The Sunday Times of Malta, the MFSA said that Mr Cuschieri was engaged as its new CEO following an interview conducted by four members of its board, which is chaired by Prof. John Mamo.

According to his five-year engagement contract, Mr Cuschieri is entitled to an annual gross basic salary of €115,000, which will increase by more than €3,000 every year during the five-year period.

He is also entitled to a 20 per cent performance bonus on his salary, amounting to an additional €23,000 a year.

Mr Cuschieri regularly retweets messages by the Prime Minister and Labour’s TV One

This could push up Mr Cuschieri’s total package to at least €138,000 a year, apart from the annual increase stipulated in the contract. Apart from the cash payments, Mr Cuschieri has been given an all- expenses-paid car, a free smartphone and tablet, and will be reimbursed for all his travelling, subsistence, professional and hospitality fees as long as they are incurred during the course of his duties.

The former MGA boss has also been given a free health insurance scheme and will be paid to attend training courses in Malta and abroad.

Until Mr Cuschieri’s arrival at the MFSA, the financial services regulator had been managed for some two decades by Prof. Joe Bannister, who acted as executive chairman and whose salary was over €82,000 before he stepped down to become an adviser to the Prime Minister.

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In order for Mr Cuschieri to become CEO of the MFSA, a change in the law was approved by Parliament, as legislation did not allow for such a post.

Meanwhile, despite his new role as a fully independent regulator, Mr Cuschieri has already raised some eyebrows in the financial services industry, as he continues to post partisan comments on social media, particularly in favour of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

In one recent instance, following the publication of the Egrant report, Mr Cuschieri expressed his “shock” at the outcome of the inquiry.

“Let it be known that Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was completely cleared by an independent magisterial inquiry,” he commented, while stating that the Egrant allegation was “a lie”.

Mr Cuschieri regularly retweets messages by the Prime Minister and the Labour Party’s TV One.

An accountant by profession, Mr Cuschieri has spent most of his career at regulatory authorities. He was also the chief operating officer of the Malta Communications Authority when he resigned to join Vodafone.

ivan.camilleri@timesofmalta.com

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