Joe Cuschieri admitted yesterday that while serving as CEO of the Malta Financial Services Authority he travelled to Las Vegas with Yorgen Fenech to advise him on “regulatory issues”. The financial services regulator told The Malta Independent yesterday he gave his time and advice without payment or compensation.

Joe Cuschieri is one of the two Malta representatives on the Supervisory Board of the European Central Bank. As such he is governed by the code of conduct for high-level ECB officials which applies to members of the Supervisory Board.

The code of ethics demands from its officials “the highest standards of ethical conduct and integrity”. It requires that officials “ensure that any private activities, whether remunerated or not, do not have a negative impact on their obligations and will not damage the reputation of the ECB.”

The code expressly allows officials to “undertake private activities in public or international organisations or non-profit organisations as well as teaching and scholarly activities, provided that these are not activities that raise conflict of interest concerns.” But the code requires that officials “exercise particular prudence and apply appropriate safeguards when participating in closed events or when accepting individual invitations,” a concern that is very relevant for this Las Vegas trip.

ECB officials like Joe Cuschieri are required to “avoid any situation which may raise conflict of interest concerns.”

The code also requires officials to “exercise caution when offered … any gift, hospitality, or other benefit, whether financial or in kind, which is not the agreed compensation for services delivered.” The rules speak of a cap of €100 for the value of ‘advantages’.

Joe Cuschieri has so far ignored calls for his resignation.