New chapter in Dalligate saga

| March 11, 2016

The EU’s anti-fraud chief has been stripped of his diplomatic immunity and could face questioning by Belgian investigators in a case linked to the 2012 resignation of a European health commissioner during the preparation of the new Tobacco Products Directive, according to an Agence France Presse story.

The Belgian authorities are investigating allegations that Giovanni Kessler, the head of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), secretly listened in on a conversation between witnesses linked to a tobacco lobbying affair that came to be known as Dalligate.

Belgian law prohibits surreptitious monitoring or taping of phone calls.

The Dalligate investigation, which was carried out by OLAF, culminated in the forced resignation of the then-health commissioner John Dalli over concerns about his alleged unreported contact with tobacco lobbyists.

Dalli has categorically denied any wrong-doing and filed a complaint in a Belgian court that led to the demand that Kessler’s immunity be lifted.

Many EU civil servants in Belgium are granted diplomatic immunity, in addition to being exempted from paying taxes in the country.

OLAF said that with his immunity lifted, Kessler now had the option to bring legal action against the EU Commission before the European Court of Justice ‘in order to protect OLAF’s independence’.

‘This would be an unprecedented step, but one that is crucial in ensuring the independence and proper functioning of OLAF and, through OLAF’s investigative work, the protection of the EU budget,’ the organization said in an email to Agence France Presse.

Category: Breaking News

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