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Commission asked for more information on Dalli resignation, OLAF report

| November 2, 2012

The European Commission is considering providing more public information about the circumstances that led to John Dalli’s resignation as health commissioner, but it says it first has to establish what it can legally divulge, according to a Times of Malta story.

Confirming that Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, had received a letter from the European Parliament president, Martin Schultz, spokesman Olivier Bailly said the Commission was examining what further information it could release.

“I can confirm that Mr Schultz has asked us for additional information on what led to the resignation of the former commissioner and to have access to the contents of the OLAF [the EU’s anti-fraud agency] investigation report,” Bailly said.

“The president will be replying to this letter but the Commission will first have to consider the legal constraints before sending an official reply to MEPs,” he added. Commission sources were quoted as saying that though MEPs had asked to see the contents of the OLAF report on a confidential basis, the Commission was not sure whether this was permitted because the report’s contents did not involve only Dalli, but also other parties investigated and interrogated by OLAF.

Normally, OLAF does not publish its reports but passes the results of its investigations to national authorities.

OLAF’s investigation, which followed a complaint by Swedish Match, allegedly linked Dalli to Maltese businessman, Silvio Zammit, who allegedly approached Swedish Match and offered to meet with Dalli regarding the EU’s policy on snus in exchange for €60 million.

OLAF did not find conclusive evidence of Dalli directly participating in the approach. Dalli resigned on October 16 denying any wrongdoing.

A number of individual MEPs have tabled questions for written answer by the Commission, mostly seeking further information on the circumstances surrounding Dalli’s resignation.

But MEP Adrian Severin tabled a question about OLAF’s working methods in the context of the Dalli case.

Severin said the case of Commissioner John Dalli had shed light on the dubious way in which OLAF operated. He asked:

1.    Whether the Commission endorsed OLAF’s current working methods and assumed responsibility for it?

2.    Whether it intended to forbid OLAF’s practice of drawing conclusions based solely on circumstantial or incomplete evidence or ongoing investigations?

3.    Whether it intended to take steps to ensure that OLAF complied with the presumption of innocence and benefit of the doubt?

Category: Breaking News

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