Amid scandals including murder charges and other misdeeds, the Malta government has appointed a young inexperienced lawyer to chair the important Malta Gaming Authority.
Ryan Pace, who worked in the law practice of Prime Minister Robert Abela, offers no experience in the gaming industry. Still in his 20s, Pace took over as deputy chairman of the authority last June, not long after Abela became prime minister. CEO Heathcliff Farrugia resigned over a scandal that affected the gaming regulator, leaving Pace at the helm.
Farrugia faces criminal charges over alleged influence trading with Yorgen Fenech, the former owner of the Portomaso and Oracle Casinos, who faces charges of murder in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
“The appointment of someone who is a young graduate and has no experience in gaming does not increase the international respect that our jurisdiction has gained over the years,” a veteran gaming operator told The Shift.
MPs Claudette Buttigieg, Karol Aquilina and Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici voted against Pace’s appointment.
According to the latest data, the gaming sector in Malta, regulated by the MGA, accounts for 10 percent of the economy and employs thousands. During the past years, gambling interests faced allegations of money laundering and mob connections.