There is no man so blind as he who will not see. As governor of the Central Bank, Edward Scicluna’s job is to anticipate economic trends and take the steps necessary to keep the boat afloat. He is to run the bank that banks trust. He is the guardian of the vault. When everyone else looks bad he makes us all look good. Or so he should.
The fact of the matter is that Edward Scicluna appears to be unable to perceive why he’s unsuitable for that position. He can’t see that no matter his knowledge, his experience, and his good intentions, such as they are, his presence alone is damaging to Malta’s standing as a financial jurisdiction.
He thinks we say this because we don’t like him or because he ran for the Labour Party. Edward Scicluna’s ideological affiliations have been known all his life, no matter his pretences. And yet, perhaps because of his academic credentials, he was allowed to exaggerate his own importance and to reach positions he perhaps was never suitable for.
He thinks we say these things about him because we envy his success or resent his decision to throw his lot with Joseph Muscat in his dotage.
Edward Scicluna’s career should be well and truly over for altogether different reasons. It’s because, with every painful bursting of each boil that started growing in his time as Finance Minister, he is again forced to defend his record, dragging the Central Bank down with him.
This week, the crisis de la semaine is caused by the publication of the FIAU’s conclusions of its 2018 inspection of Pilatus Bank and the arraignment of the bank in the criminal court together with one of the only two senior officials within reach of the police.
Edward Scicluna defended his record by declaring that he had never defended Pilatus Bank. Because it would seem, Edward Scicluna thinks his job as Minister responsible for the financial services industry at the time amounted to a choice between defending or not defending an industrial-scale money-laundering operation.
Even if we were to accept his plea that he never defended Pilatus, which for reasons explained below we don’t, could he perhaps tell us what he did do about Pilatus rather than make a very short list of what he didn’t do? He can’t. He has nothing to show for himself.
As for never having defended Pilatus, does Edward Scicluna genuinely believe the shit he tells himself? Does he remember the times he mocked, pushed back, and attributed malice to the insistence by journalists and activists and Opposition politicians that Pilatus Bank was a laundry for the corrupt Azerbaijanis his cabinet colleagues were all too friendly with?
Does he not remember telling a journalist on camera that he suspected reports by officials within his Ministry were written to be leaked to please the Nationalist Opposition? Does he not remember standing in Parliament the day after Ali Sadr was indicted in the United States to explain why federal charges for bank fraud against the owner of a bank did not have to reflect on that bank?
Does he not remember complaining to a journalist asking him what would happen to the license held by Pilatus Bank by complaining it was too early in the morning to think about such things?
Edward Scicluna was the Finance Minister in 2016 when the FIAU first found systemic breaches of anti-money-laundering rules at Pilatus Bank. He was Finance Minister in 2017 when Daphne Caruana Galizia reported Pilatus was a laundry for the corrupt. He was Finance Minister in 2018 when the Bank’s owner was indicted in the US and when the European Banking Agency intervened to have the bank shut down. He was Finance Minister in 2019 when any doubts anyone might have persisted in retaining about the simple fact that Pilatus Bank was a criminal laundry were being dispelled by the findings of the investigations into its affairs.
When, in any of that time, did Edward Scicluna do anything, or said anything, or moved in any way to save Malta from the reputational damage Pilatus Bank was costing Malta’s banking industry, its financial services credentials, and the name of the country at large?
Never. He never did anything, never said anything, never caused anyone to do or say anything. He just stayed there, munching the peanuts he was paid to act the monkey on the doorstep of Joseph Muscat’s kitchen cabinet.
It wasn’t just sloth or cluelessness. Any meaningful action or even distancing from Pilatus Bank would have hampered Joseph Muscat from his tear-jerking song and dance about being the victim of “the biggest lie in Malta’s political history” about secrets Pilatus was alleged to be covering for him.
Edward Scicluna may never have learnt all the facts about Egrant and what Pilatus Bank knew about it. But he wasn’t going to take any risks letting anyone find out either.
Not only is this a long list of good reasons for Edward Scicluna to stay as far away from public office as I should stay from a chocolate fountain. On top of it all, Edward Scicluna is now forced to lie in his own defence fielding questions from journalists about his responsibilities of the past 8 years when his hardly deserved retirement would allow him to live out his years hiding from his abysmal record.
In the meantime, he burdens our Central Bank and under its weight the entire country with the legacy of the Joseph Muscat years. We would all rather that Muscat’s government died intestate. Instead, we have to live with the poisonous inheritance of a Central Bank run by Edward “uejjacomeon” Scicluna.