Malta’s gaming regulatory boss is leaving his post following a flurry of negative headlines regarding its Italian-based online gambling licensees.
On Sunday, the Times of Malta reported that Malta Gaming Authority executive chairman Joseph Cuschieri would be leaving the regulatory agency to become CEO of the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA). The MFSA doesn’t technically have a CEO position, forcing the government to amend the law to create the position.
Cuschieri won’t be entirely saying goodbye to the gaming industry, as the MFSA oversees all financial services in Malta, including credit institutions, financial and electronic money institutions, securities and investment services, insurance as well as consumer education and consumer protection.
The Times of Malta further claimed that Cuschieri’s longtime lieutenant Heathcliff Farrugia was the likely pick to head up the MGA, while Malta Investment Management Company LTD chairman Adrian Said would likely become the MGA’s new non-executive chairman.
While Cuschieri’s move has reportedly been in the works for some time, it comes just as the MGA is dealing with a tide of bad press stemming from Italian police actions against alleged mafia-associated illegality by MGA-licensed online gambling operators.
The MGA has responded to these arrests by suspending the licenses of the affected companies and by launching a probe of all Italian-based licensees to ensure they are complying with their license obligations. Just last week, the MGA announced the formation of a new Anti-Money Laundering Supervisory Unit to ensure its licensees were staying on the straight and narrow path.
Italy’s anti-mafia commission recently complained that it wasn’t getting the help it needed from the MGA. Cuschieri, who has been the MGA’s leader since 2013, said this month that he wanted to start a “collaboration” with Italian authorities but acknowledged that the MGA lacks the strong investigation tools that are available to the police and the judiciary.