Thursday

24th May 2018

Court testimony implicates former EU health chief

  • Dalli was at the time revising EU-wide rules on tobacco and has accused the tobacco industry of masterminding his dismissal (Photo: lanier67)

The head of the EU’s anti-fraud office Olaf, Giovanni Kessler, arrived in court in Malta on Tuesday (17 March) as a witness in a tobacco scandal that saw a former EU commissioner forced out of office.

Kessler presented the court with new testimony in a case that dates back to 2012 when Malta’s then EU commissioner for health, John Dalli, was ousted over an alleged attempt to lift a sale ban on mouth-tobacco snus in exchange for €60 million.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The sale of snus is restricted to Sweden but has an estimated EU-wide market value of some €500 million.

Dalli, who has always maintained his innocence in the affair, was at the time revising the EU-wide rules on tobacco and has accused the tobacco industry of masterminding his dismissal.

He left his post in October 2012 after a tense exchange with the European Commission president of the time, Jose Manuel Barroso.

Olaf was tipped off to possible wrongdoing in early 2012 and launched an investigation that later implicated Dalli, an EU-official-turned-tobacco-lobbyist Gayle Kimberly, and Maltese businessman and restaurant owner Silvio Zammit.

Only Zammit has so far been charged.

The latest twist in the on-going saga is new testimony from two former officials in Dalli’s cabinet.

According to Malta Today, Kessler told the jury that Dalli had inquired about lifting the snus ban during internal meetings with his staff.

“Two commission officials [Joanna Darmanin and Paula Duarte] told us that Dalli, in a formal meeting of the cabinet, tried to push for lifting the ban on snus, which issue at that time was not controversial,” Kessler told the court.

He added that “the two witnesses, Joanna Darmanin - at the time chef de cabinet of John Dalli - and Ms [Paula] Duarte gave two interviews, records of which I don’t have with me but can be provided, said that Dalli, on two occasions on 24 January 2012 and 28 February 2012, pushed for the lifting of the ban, or he tried to see what was necessary to do so.”

Olaf told this website it was unable to immediately confirm the statements reported by the paper because the hearing was still ongoing.

But Dalli soon afterwards accused Kessler of perjury for having made the accusation.

The former commissioner denied having proposed lifting the snus ban and says Kessler fabricated the Darmnanin and Duarte testimonies.

Instead, Dalli says that on 28 February he had signed off an impact assessment with his staff and DG Sanco, the commission branch that deals with health-related policy.

That impact assessment included a ban on the sale of snus, he notes.

"This is documented and can be verified. This is perjury and I expect the police to take action," he said in a statement.

Investigation

Part I: From Peppi’s to Barroso’s

Part I of VIII: EUobserver takes a closer look at the Barroso commission's biggest scandal - tobacco lobbying and John Dalli - in events some say will haunt the EU "for the next 10 years".

Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline

The EU starts enforcing its general data protection regulation on 25 May - but Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania and Slovenia won't be ready. The delay will cause legal uncertainty.

Gay rights under threat in divided Europe

From same-sex marriage in Malta to horrors in Azerbaijan - survey shows huge disparities on gay rights in Europe, amid "stagnating" progress and populist threats.

Austria accused of undermining new EU data law

Most EU states have yet to pass the national laws needed to equip authorities with the resources to enforce the upcoming EU general data protection regulation. Austria, previously deemed a leader for high data standards, appears increasingly wary.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. 'Killer robot' projects eligible for EU defence fund
  2. Funding for European values needs radical changes
  3. Feeble EU format deflates Zuckerberg 'hearing'
  4. Are EU data watchdogs staffed for GDPR?
  5. EU pessimistic on permanent US trade exemption
  6. US asks EU to go after Russian and African villains
  7. Facebook threatened with removal from EU-US data pact
  8. Defence firms 'reap benefits' of advice to EU