Commission/olaf : Greens Challenge Dalligate Chronology

European Social Policy, April 10, 2013 | Go to article overview

Commission/olaf : Greens Challenge Dalligate Chronology


One of the key elements that led to the resignation of former Health Commissioner John Dalli could well be unfounded. Or so said Greens MEPs Bart Staes (Belgium) and Jose Bove (France), on 21 March, at a press conference on the establishment of a special committee on good governance.

"Following an interview, on 20 March, with representatives of snus manufacturers, I have two new elements: on the one hand, there never was a second meeting between Gayle Kimberley and John Dalli. Kimberley lied and has admitted it to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). On the other hand, OLAF has asked Swedish Match not to change its version of accounts," said Bove, with a recording to prove his claims.

These new claims reignite the controversy over the circumstances surrounding Dalli's resignation, on 16 October 2012. At the time, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) Director-General Giovanni Kessler had claimed there was "unambiguous circumstantial evidence" on Dalli's role in a case of trading in influence. Specifically, their suspicions were based on two meetings the former commissioner had with business representatives.

ONLY TWO MEETINGS?

On 21 March, the Swedish enterprise Swedish Match - which produces snus - wrote to the Commission's secretary-general to inform her of a trafficking in influence proposal. It appears that businessman Silvio Zammit had offered to hand over the tidy sum of 60 million to reward a change in tobacco legislation.

According to Gayle Kimberley, a lobbyist for Swedish Match, Dalli attended two meetings: one on 6 January and another on 10 February. It was alleged that another meeting - to discuss figures more specifically - followed shortly: Zammit, Gayle and Johann Gabrielsson were said to have been present. Yet in the recording held by Bove, Swedish Match members admit that that second meeting never happened. "I heard that there never had been a second meeting when OLAF told me. When I saw Kimberley at the restaurant, she told me she had been to the meeting. Then Zammit joined us and confirmed what Gayle had told me and announced what the sum of money was. So I received confirmation from two people," said Gabrielsson.

When Europolitics got in touch with Gabrielsson, he was careful to nuance this: he claims he only heard that Kimberley did not attend the second meeting, which is not to say that the meeting did not take place. Similarly, Gabrielsson explained that OLAF would never have told him to keep this information secret, but merely to be wary of how and who he communicated it to "so as not to disrupt the investigation currently taking place in Malta".

SPECIAL COMMITTEE

Five months after Dalli's resignation, many questions are still unanswered. The Maltese authorities' investigation is still not closed and access to OLAF's conclusions has still not been granted. …

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