John Dalli held 24h for interrogation
Former European Commissioner John Dalli was held overnight between Monday and Tuesday at the Police headquarters for questioning at length over an OLAF report published last month.
OLAF, the European Anti-Fraud Office, claimed that Mr Dalli was aware that a person who previously canvassed for him had approached a Swedish tobacco company and allegedly solicited a bribe of 60 million euros to influence a tobacco directive that the European Union was about to introduce last month. Mr Dalli has denied any knowledge and involvement in the case.
It is understood that Mr Dalli was summoned to the police headquarters on Monday at 21:00h and was only released on Tuesday at around 18:30h. No information was divulged by the Police on the interrogation but sources said that developments could be expected following the questioning.
The European Commission had said that Mr Dalli was informed by the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso of the investigation by OLAF into a complaint made in May 2012 by tobacco producer Swedish Match.
The company alleged that Maltese entrepreneur, Silvio Zammit, had used his contacts with Mr Dalli to try to gain financial advantages from the company in return for seeking to influence a possible future legislative proposal on tobacco products, in particular on the EU export ban on snus. As soon as the Commission received the complaint, it immediately requested OLAF to investigate.
The OLAF final report was sent to the Commission on October 15. It found that the Maltese entrepreneur had approached the company using his contacts with Mr Dalli and sought to gain financial advantages in exchange for influence over a possible future legislative proposal on snus. No transaction was concluded between the company and the entrepreneur and no payment was made. The OLAF report did not find any conclusive evidence of the direct participation of Mr Dalli but did consider that he was aware of these events. The OLAF report was sent to the Attorney General in Malta and the Police were asked to investigate.
The OLAF report showed clearly that the European Commission's decision-making process and the position of the services concerned has not been affected at all by the matters under investigation. The final OLAF report and its recommendations are being sent by OLAF to the Attorney General of Malta. It will now up to the Maltese judiciary to decide how to follow up.
Malta's Foreign Minister Tonio Borg was nominated by the Prime Minister for the European Commission post and his hearing was held yesterday while Mr Dalli was at the police headquarters being questioned. The European Parliament is expected to vote on Tonio Borg's nomination next week.