Barroso warning to Dalli as AG passes EU report to police
OLAF supervisory board member resigns over breach of procedure
John Dalli was yesterday warned by the European Commission president to “behave with integrity” and stop “insinuations” surrounding his resignation as Health Commissioner.
This statement comes as Malta’s Attorney General submitted the EU’s anti-fraud agency report to the police.
Sources close to the AG office told The Times he had finalised his recommendations on the investigation by the anti-fraud agency, OLAF, and the report has now been passed on to the police.
“The ball is in the police’s court as they will now have to examine the AG’s recommendations and conduct their own investigations before deciding whether to take further action,” the sources said.
Meanwhile, in a new twist it emerged that a senior member of the OLAF supervisory board, Christiaan Timmermans, has resigned over alleged breach of procedure in the office’s handling of Mr Dalli case.
It is being claimed Mr Timmermans failed to properly inform the board about details of Mr Dalli’s alleged misconduct before handing the information over to the Maltese authorities.
The board oversees the work of OLAF, which investigated trading in influence allegations involving the former Commissioner and Sliema businessman Silvio Zammit.
The EU’s anti-fraud office’s investigation concluded that the Maltese businessman had approached a Swedish tobacco producer, using his contact with Mr Dalli, and sought to gain financial advantage in exchange for influence on a possible legislative proposal on snus – a tobacco product which is banned in all EU countries except Sweden.
The Commissioner, according to the OLAF inquiry, “was aware of events”, though Mr Dalli has strongly denied this claim. It is not yet known whether the police will question Mr Dalli, businessman Silvio Zammit (who has since resigned as Sliema deputy mayor), as well as other people included in the OLAF report.
Commission president José Manuel Barroso yesterday responded to the public allegations made by Mr Dalli in his media blitz and warned him to “behave with integrity” in line with the terms of EU treaty provisions on former Commissioners.
Resigning from EU post is ‘irrevocable’
Mr Barroso’s strongly worded letter indicates that the Commission may be considering the formal sacking of Malta’s former Commissioner, depriving him from lucrative transition allowances and a pension.
Describing Mr Dalli’s statements and claims as unacceptable, Mr Barroso reiterated his position that according to the treaty, no written form was required for a declaration of resignation, the act of which was “irrevocable”.
The Commission’s head also referred to Mr Dalli’s various accusations of illegal and incorrect conduct vis-à-vis his treatment calling such accusations “incomprehensible”.
“In the light of certain statements and insinuations you have made in relation to the process of preparation of the revised directive on tobacco, I wish to remind you of the obligation, as a former commissioner, to behave with integrity in accordance with article 245 of the treaty,” Mr Barroso said.
Mr Barroso said that as the OLAF investigation had confirmed, the decision-making process of the Commission in the tobacco file had not been affected, and as foreseen in the work programme, the Commission would proceed with this proposal.
Article 245 of the EU Treaty
The members of the Commission may not, during their term of office, engage in any other occupation, whether gainful or not.
When entering upon their duties they shall give a solemn undertaking that, both during and after their term of office, they will respect the obligations arising there from, and in particular their duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance, after they have ceased to hold office, of certain appointments or benefits.
In the event of any breach of these obligations, the Court of Justice may, on application by the Council acting by a simple majority or the Commission, rule that the member concerned be, according to the circumstances, either compulsorily retired in accordance with Article 247 or deprived of his right to a pension or other benefits in its stead.