And finally, what we have been waiting for all along has happened. It appears that Prof Joe Bannister, MFSA Chairman is finally to leave his position, either by default – if Labour is elected – at the end of the year, or being finally relieved of his position, if Simon Busuttil is elected as Prime Minister on 3rd June.
He has too often been saying that the MFSA is himself, that he is the MFSA (Jien l-MFSA).. He has enjoyed his cozy relationship with politicians (and one Labour MP in particular due to the Tumas Fenech connection) and engaged in private meetings where nobody else from the MFSA was present and of which no record was kept. He has also enjoyed cozy relationships with his favourite consultants and cronies and his various favourite sycophants. Some he promoted to high posts at the Authority.
During these past years, he has sucked up to the new powers at Castille and wasted no opportutinty to tell anyone who would listen how much he admired Joseph Muscat and that he had a better relationship with him than with Tonio Fenech the former Minister of Finance. Regarding Edward Scicluna, here again Bannister loses no opportunity to mock him as being soft and to ignore him. He was only too happy to show anybody within distance, SMS’s from Joseph Muscat personally assuring him of his support. Accordingly he could also ignore the strong and valid criticism coming from the Paul Bonello’s, the Evarist Bartolo’s, this website and others. But now it appears that finally the die is cast. Predictably, on cue, Joseph Muscat duly came out to praise and defend him and save his face.
The good news is that Simon Busutill has now told him hesitatingly at first but more decisively later : Bannister, your time is up. You have been there too long. Hopefully many, even in the NP, have now discovered, rather late, that they have had a wolf in sheep’s clothing leading a public authority. An amateurish actor but an actor nevertheless. His acting had neither impressed nor fooled Alfred Sant who in 1997 unceremoniously dumped him and literally sent him packing. Two years later, John Dalli put his favourite stooge back in the saddle.
Bannister will no doubt now be keeping himself busy making sure persons of his choice continue to lead the MFSA after he is gone and make sure he will retain a finger in the pie behind the scenes. Some people in the industry we asked for an opinion replied in terms such as: “Jibghatuh fejn iridu. Basta itir minn hemm!!” (Let him go anywhere but make sure he is out of there!) What is also fact is that as soon as he realised that his time was truly up, and that he was not fooling the NP any more, he started pretending and play-acting that he was leaving of his own accord. Will this be his final bluff?
The question now is that with his controlling influence and in view of the poor and confused regulatory culture now prevailing at the MFSA, it is probably no longer enough to fire the man-who-would-be-emperor from his persona fiefdom because his hand -picked acolytes are still in control and his sycophants are stil enjoying their rich consultancies thanks solely to his personal generosity. The MFSA may have to be re-vamped and re-drawn and a proper regulatory culture restored so that we should not have any more Pilatus-type banks. Accordingly, in this necessary exercise, neither Bannister nor his associates must be allowed to play any part.
The competent and well-meaning regulators and other good staff at the MFSA, of which there are several, should henceforth be better protected from undue interference and be allowed to focus on their duties and to carry out their job without fear or favour.