Malta Gaming Authority chairman Joe Cuschieri will be taking the helm of the Malta Financial Services Authority once the current and long-serving chairman Joe Bannister steps down at the end of the year.
This newspaper is also informed that Labour MP and former tourism minister Edward Zammit Lewis had first been approached to take on Bannister’s role at the MFSA, but had refused the offer.
Government sources speaking to this newspaper have also said that people close to the Prime Minister are suggesting none other than Adrian Hillman to fill Cuschieri’s shoes at the MGA once he moves to the MFSA, which is expected to take place at the beginning of the year.
During the last election campaign, the Prime Minister had announced that Bannister intended stepping down from the Authority by the year’s end, insisting that his departure was a personal choice as he felt it was his time to leave, and that “there were no political or any other reasons”.
But earlier that same day, then Opposition leader Simon Busuttil had made it a point to stress that Bannister would not have been kept on had the Nationalist Party won the election. At the time, Bannister has been under significant public pressure following the Egrant allegations and leaked Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit reports.
Bannister had also faced scathing remarks and accusations in the last legislature from Education Minister Evarist Bartolo, who had repeatedly insisted that Bannister’s position was untenable and that he should step down over a conflicting role as director of a collective investment scheme in the Cayman Islands and his chairmanship of the MFSA.
This newspaper is also informed that former tourism minister Edward Zammit Lewis, now a backbench MP, had been offered the chairmanship of the MFSA but that he had refused given that such an appointment would necessitate his resignation from Parliament.
Hillman’s name, this newspaper is informed, has been pitched to the Prime Minister as a possible replacement for Cuschieri. Hillman, a former Allied Group managing director, had been exposed in the Panama Papers for possible money laundering practices, which Hillman denies.
In a terse press release issued this afternoon, a government spokesperson wrote:
“The Malta Independent on Sunday front page story with regard to changes in institutions is based on speculations and contains untruths.
“The Government denies the report.