Malta Gaming Authority head Joseph Cuschieri has been approved as the new chief executive officer of the Malta Financial Services Authority, The Times of Malta is informed.

The MFSA's board of directors met on Wednesday and voted to approve his nomination, sources said, adding that the official announcement was expected to be made after Mr Cuschieri met with the board later on Friday. 

Times of Malta had first reported that Mr Cuschieri had been hand-picked for the position back in February.

The original MFSA law did not contemplate the post of a CEO but the government amended it last year, also adding the position of non-executive chairman - a position filled last week by John Mamo a commercial law professor at the University of Malta.

An accountant by profession, Mr Cuschieri has worked in a number of executive positions in the private sector including chief commercial officer at Vodafone.

The MFSA has been at the centre of controversy in recent weeks with questions being raised about, among other things, the due diligence that saw Pilatus Bank - whose owner is currently under arrest for US sanctions busting - receive a banking license in Malta.

Since its inception in the late 1980s, the MFSA has been led by Joe Bannister, except for a short stint during the 1996-1998 Labour government when he was replaced by Edward Scicluna, today's Finance Minister. In 1998, following the premature collapse of Alfred Sant’s administration, Prof. Bannister was reinstated by then Finance Minister John Dalli.

Despite pressure from senior Labour quarters, including repeated public calls by Education Minister Evarist Bartolo for the removal of Prof. Bannister, Prime Minster Joseph Muscat had kept him in office until his retirement earlier this month. 

Sources told Times of Malta that it had been an open secret for the past few months that Mr Cuschieri would be replacing Prof. Bannister at the helm of the financial sector’s watchdog.

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