The European Commission’s press statement about John Dalli

Published: October 17, 2012 at 2:01am

European Commission

Brussels, 16 October 2012


Commissioner John Dalli has today announced his resignation as a member of the Commission, with immediate effect.

Mr Dalli informed the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso of his decision following an investigation by OLAF, the EU’s antifraud office, into a complaint made in May 2012 by the tobacco producer, Swedish Match.

The company alleged that a Maltese entrepreneur 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 15 October. 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 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 be for the Maltese judiciary to decide how to follow up.

After the President informed Mr Dalli about the report received from OLAF, Mr Dalli decided to resign in order to be able to defend his reputation and that of the Commission. Mr Dalli categorically rejects these findings.

Mr Barroso has decided that Vice President Maros Sefcovic will take over the portfolio of Mr Dalli on an interim basis until a new Commissioner of Maltese nationality is appointed in accordance with article 246 (2) of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union.

Mr Giovanni Kessler, Director-General of OLAF will be available in the press room after the midday briefing tomorrow.

65 Comments Comment

  1. Harry Purdie says:

    ‘Brussels Speak’, ‘You got caught, dummy, you’re out.

    • La Redoute says:

      Why would an imqaret vendor from a seaside town in a Mediterranean island not know about the particular interests of a tobacco company in Sweden?

      And why wouldn’t that imqaret vendor know whom to contact with an indecent proposal?

      You don’t really believe that the imqaret vendor was Commissioner John Dalli’s fixer, do you?

  2. Matt says:

    There has to be more to this story. Why would OLAF take such a harsh step just by hearing allegations. They must have discovered something concrete, tangible.

    • mandango70 says:

      I wonder what your reasoning was like in the BWSC saga, following the findings of the auditor general and his hard hitting statement.

      Two weights two measures perhaps?

  3. Village says:

    The Nationalist Party does not need shady characters.

    It should get rid of them as they will invariably harm the party sooner or later.

  4. Marisa borg says:

    So it was all planned ahead. Dalli knew all about the investigation and he tried to blame it on the evil clikk. Mela mhux mill office ta EU ta Malta intercettaw il mails imma ta OLAF. Imbasga wehel Austin miskin.

  5. The chemist says:

    Saviour must have rolled up his sleeves to ensure a proper damage control strategy. Wonder who the scapegoat might be this time?

    [Daphne – The focus is all on Silvio Zammit, as though Zammit could possibly have known anything about snus or tobacco directives. he was obviously just the dispatch man.]

    • mandango70 says:

      Qatatha l-kundanna!

      Prosekutur, avutak tad-difiza u mhallef all rolled into one.

      • Clifford says:

        Imma aktar kredibbli t-teorija ta’ Daphne milli t-teorija ta’ shabek li din hi bicca xoghol ta’ Gonzi u l-kabinett biex ihammgu lil Dalli. Ara x’inhuma jiktbu shabek fuq blogs ohrajn.

    • AJS says:

      Sorry to ask Daphne, is Taormina kiosk the kiosk in front of Snoopy’s? Wasn’t it the one burnt down in the late 70s? Was Peppi the one who had the stand close by?

      [Daphne – Yes, that’s it. I don’t remember it being burned down, though. And now his stand is a restaurant. Taormina Kiosk is now Fresco’s, but has nothing to do with Peppi’s or Silvio Zammit.]

    • TROY says:

      Silvio is just into animal cruelty – now he’s in a circus whipped and abused so that he performs well.

      Dalli’s circus is comming to town. Come and watch Silvio perform.

  6. Esteve says:

    I still can’t understand what is meant by “but did consider that he was aware of these events”.

    It looks like all they’ve got on him is a lot of fluff and nothing substantial.

    But the Sliema council…really, someone could write a TV series about it. What a pitiful lot.

    [Daphne – No, what it means is that they’ve been monitoring him for a long time and that this was the final straw.]

    • Lestrade says:

      He was under the spotlight at the begining of the Libyan revolution when, as EU commissioner, he issued a pro Gaddafi statement in which he also belittled the rebels’ claims as to casualties, saying that they were “actors”.

      The Commission came down hard upon him and he had to withdraw his statement.

      Sargas must be disappointed that he had to let go just now when the goal was in sight and up for grabs.

      • Jozef says:

        It’s all very Scandinavian.

        Sargas had their first prototype installed onto the chimney stacks of Stockholm’s coal fired station. I bet this smokeless tobacco must be some initial offshoot of their technology.

  7. maryanne says:

    Up till 8.00 this morning JPO had still not found his voice and Franco Debono has taken off his article under the heading ‘John Dalli Resigns’.

    I say, let John Dalli fight his demons and his battles and let us look closely at Joseph Muscat. As Daphne has pointed out in her article on the Malta Indpendent on Sunday, we need to keep focused on Muscat.

    For the past year Dalli has been a fixture on Super One. He, and some others, have become part of the furniture. It is very telling how Muscat is going to handle this very hot potato. Let it be a test. After all, he will most probably be the next prime minister and we need to know how he will be tackling much bigger problems.

    • Village says:

      Both John Dalli as well as Silvio Zammit should be requested to resign (if not expelled) from the Nationalist Party forthwith. They may be reinstated if they can prove they are innocent.

  8. Miss O'Brien says:


  9. why don’t you show us the PN statement about the sliema councillor now too for an unbiased reportage?

    [Daphne – This is not the main news media, Josephine. I don’t ‘show you’ things. What I want to know right now is who Silvio Zammit was acting for. Clearly, OLAF suspect that Dalli was in on it, otherwise they would not have said what they did. I grew up in Sliema and am perfectly aware of who Zammit is: ta’ Peppi tal-mqaret ta’ hdejn it-Taormina Kiosk. There is no way on earth he is the sort of person who keeps up to speed on snus, the Swedish tobacco industry or EU tobacco directives.]

  10. Francis Saliba says:

    “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”.

    Could mean a lot, but actually means nothing. OLAF only considered that Dalli was “aware of these events” not that he was a part of them.

    We are all “aware” of Franco Debono’s shenanigans. That does not mean that we participate in them – we deprecate them.

    • La Redoute says:


      It is a roundabout way of saying that Dalli got his fixer to approach the company with an offer he thought they wouldn’t refuse.

      Except that they did, and then went on to report the fixer’s offer to Dalli’s boss.

      • Francis Saliba says:

        One version states that it was Inge Delfosse, secretary general of ESTOC, that approached Silvio Zammit lobbying him with the request for an informal meeting with Dalli and asking “how much you would charge for that”,

        To me that is not Dalli “getting his fixer to approach the company with an offer he thought they wouldn’t refuse”. Quite the opposite! it would be a clumsy bribery attempt by the powerful tobacco lobby to corrupt Dalli, through Zammit, because he was an obstacle to the spread of snus beyond the Swedish borders.

    • john says:

      Your comparison with our awareness of Franco’s shenanigans does not hold, Francis.

      A truer comparison would be the situation of a judge who is aware of an attempt at corruption in a case involving himself. He cannot remain silent, but must act and expose the offender.

    • Kenneth Cassar says:

      If he was aware of the events, he was duly and legally bound to report them.

    • ACD says:

      If you’re aware of something illegal, you should report it. “Omertà” is only valued in Malta (“Smajt, ma smajtx…” and all that crap) and southern Italy.

      Similarly, if Franco did anything illegal and we knew about it and didn’t report it, we’d all be moral scumbags – just like J Dalli BA.

    • thehobbit says:

      We are aware of Franco Debono’s sickening and despicable behaviour because it has been renderded public.

      In fact there must be signficant other events that have been kept private – back-room negotiations, converstations etc., Just because you are aware of his shenanigans doesn’t mean you’re aware of these either, does it?

      Indeed you’d have to be as blind as a bat and a stone cold deaf retard not to be aware of Franco Debono’s shenanigans. What with his vulgar manner, impudence and self-serving irreverance. But that aside, as my point isn’t on this cheap specimen of human excrement. The point here is on John Dalli.

      The events here, as alleged, on the other hand were strictly private. The allegations made after the OLAF investigation, were such that John Dalli could not explain the email away to President Barroso with satisfaction – not with the mounting evidence that had been accruing as can be deonted from the emphasis in the statement 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”. This suggests that at other times OLAF was certain that it was.

      Significantly, it appears that it was Swedish Match which filed the report. The sum requested was significant and deemed unacceptable by the tobacco companies, and consequently rejected (a multi-billion dollar industry – can you imagine what figure was asked if these guys deemed that it was unacceptable?!).

      Naturally, the company must have felt that if it had not reached a deal with this Commissioner then there interests might be further prejudiced if he was to remain in his position. For this to have happened some veiled threats were probably made in an effort to ‘close the deal’ and coerce them to accept the terms. So, instead, they got him fired.

      It is a fact the Silvio Zammit has no idea about smoking directives and products. His knowledge (such as it is…), in this respect, is most definitely limited to what affects him in the operation of his kiosk.

      I mean, good heavens, the man has never smoked in his life, so what interest could he possibly have? From the outside looking in, it looks like Silvio Zammit was put in place in order to take the brunt of an enterprise gone awry. The fall guy with knowledge aforethought so to speak. A person whom, his interlocutor believed or believes, could weather the storm and remain unaffected by it.

      But this is nothing but a simulation – smoke and mirrors and the sort of deceptive strategy which is borne of an arcane mind…something, this, that Silvio Zammit is simply not equipped with.

      A mind, that is.

    • Brian says:

      @ Francis Saliba

      You have a good point here.

  11. anthony says:

    As a country we might be in the EU.

    However our ethics, our mores and our morality still belong to the Maghreb. This is the sad truth.

    What an embarassing kerfuffle.

  12. Artemis says:

    I have been reading the comments online and I am amazed at the number of John Dalli apologists that have come out in his defence.

    It seems that there are many people who cannot, or will not, believe that he is guilty or capable of corruption.

    The stench of corruption has been following John Dalli around for years. Does anyone remember the Daewoo scandal, to name but one from a long list?

    And as for the conspiracy theory that he has been set up by Dr Gonzi, well, I believe that has been put out there just to muddy the waters.

    Daphne, you once said of John Dalli “I will not call him corrupt yet”, are you ready to call him corrupt now?

    [Daphne – I meant that I will not call him corrupt in print, Artemis.]

    He has been called that for years. There are many blogs on John Dalli’s links to corruption online that seem to have ruffled his feathers recently.

    He has proven himself to be very litigious in the past when it comes to allegations against him but has not taken legal action against this particular blogger. That only leads to me one conclusion.

  13. tinnat says:

    Am I the only one who thinks there’s more to this than meets the eye? The facts as stated in the report just don’t warrant a forced resignation.

  14. EU's quick relief says:

    The premature ejaculation of DalliBA can get quite messy and embarrassing.

  15. Max says:

    Come on John….you will have enough slots on ONE TV….

  16. Jozef says:

    If the Sargas thingy depended on some intensive lobbying to have it accepted as clean technology and Labour endorsed it, now that their man in Brussels is gone does this mean Joseph has to revise his promise of cheap electricity?

    Now that Gaddafi’s gone, Brussels a no go area and Pieta’ a ‘post tat-tbatija’, what on earth is he going to do?

    If it’s become impossible to leadership of the PN, as pigheaded as he may be, what happens to Maltatoday?

  17. Jozef says:

    Maltatoday ran a story last week about Silvio Zammit’s tendency to cause problems, albeit with the residents of Naxxar, surely coincidence.

  18. a. attard says:

    In my opinion if, as stated by OLAF, Dalli was “aware of these events” he should have spoken (reported) immediately beforehand and not let matters reach this stage. Having said that one cannot but conclude that “there is no smoke without fire”.

  19. gozitano2007 says:

    Another one bites the dust.

  20. Angus Black says:

    I am no fan of Dalli, but I keep in mind that allegations are not evidence and Dalli has the basic right to defend himself.

    [Daphne – Angus, we are not speaking of allegations here. We HAVE BEEN TOLD OF THE RESULT – YES, RESULT – OF INVESTIGATIONS THAT HAVE BEEN GOING ON SINCE MAY. This is not a court of law. OLAF reaches its own conclusions, passes those conclusions onto the Commission, and then the Commission decided whether to sack/force the resignation of the commissioner in question.]

    If, after all this ado, he clears himself, after the strictest scrutiny, there will be some who will eat their own words.

    [Daphne – He can’t clear his name. When you compromise the integrity of the organisation for which you work, you’ve compromised its integrity. There is no going back and clearing your name just does not enter into the equation. It’s not his name that’s on the line, but the Commission’s. It’s not about him.]

    For the sake of Malta’s reputation, I hope that he clears himself.

    [Daphne – I certainly don’t, because then there’ll be no stopping him. I don’t think you realise what sort of man we’re talking about here. He’s been getting away with it for two decades.]

    There seems to be an ambiguity regarding his ‘resignation’. Was he ‘asked to resign’, resigned of ‘his own accord’ or was he fired?

    [Daphne – He was asked for his resignation, which means effectively that he was fired but allowed to keep a faint bit of dignity, which he promptly blew away.]

    What I cannot understand is his choice of resigning.

    [Daphne – It wasn’t his choice and he said so himself.]

    If completely innocent, he should have let the Commission fire him (against his will) so that if found innocent, he would have sought compensation amounting to a few million euro.

    [Daphne – This last remark is just unbelievable. Shameless.]

  21. Alex Ellul says:

    Dalli is toast.

    As reported on

    Taken by surprise, John Dalli asked Jose Manuel Barroso for 24 hours to consult with his lawyer and his family.

    Barroso refused categorically and told him, “You have three quarters of an hour. As at 17:00 pm I will issue a press release. You have either to resign or I will dismiss you by five o’clock”.

  22. Antoine Vella says:

    I really don’t understand some people. All that money: ultra-generous salary, huge perks, prestige and an assured future . . . and still they are not satisfied. What more could someone like Dalli want from life?

  23. Interested Bystander says:

    Dalli denies any contact with Zammit.

    Dalli asked to resign.

    This suggests to me that there is hard evidence of contact between Dalli and Zammit and that Dalli is lying about it.

    • giraffa says:

      I personally saw John Dalli at least two times, between March and May this year, at a table with Silvio Zammit at Peppi’s in Tower Road, where we go often for lunch on Saturdays. Hope he won’t deny knowing Silvio.

  24. kev says:

    John Dalli: ‘The OLAF report states there is no proof whatsoever’:

    In any case, that’s Dalli gone. Will Gonzi now select KKKK for the post? Any bets?

    • La Redoute says:

      An exclusive interview with a fourth-rate anti-EU medium, eh?

      Very impressive.

      A conspiracy theorist like yourself can’t have failed to notice that Dalli named Silvio Zammit as the fall guy while griping that he was never allowed to see the OLAF report.

      If he didn’t know anything of its content, how did he know whom to blame?

      And if Dalli really didn’t see the OLAF report, why would he name Silvio Zammit if he’d never done any shady deals that involved the man?

    • Clifford says:

      Perhaps he will choose you for the post, u better still, your better half

  25. M. says:

    “A large amount of money”, by general European standards would be an even larger one by Maltese standards. If all this is true (and I am pretty convinced that it is), then shame on John Dalli and on Silvio Zammit, for having put Malta to shame for their own greed and personal gain.

  26. Gebelawi says:

    The evidence we’ve been shown so far does not directly incriminate Dalli. This Zammit character asks for money to arrange a meeting between the tobacco people and the commissioner. So what?

    [Daphne – This “Zammit character” has been John Dalli’s sidekick, canvasser and henchman for years. He can barely speak Maltese, still less English. He is neither an entrepreneur nor a lobbyist. He owned an mqaret kiosk in Sliema which has since spread and calls itself a restaurant. He works for Dalli.]

    If I were to approach a businessman and ask for payment to broker a meeting with the prime minister, would that implicate Gonzi in any way? Would the commission ask for Dalli’s resignation on so little? So unless the OLAF and Barroso are in league with GonziPN (a possibility which surprisingly few have mooted so far), the commission must have more concrete proof of a direct connection between Dalli and all this hanky panky, proof they probably are not revealing to avoid embarrassing the outgoing commissioner any more than necessary. But Dalli, being Dalli, cannot resign graciously. He’s down a hole and digging frantically, and will continue digging until the commission is forced to reveal the whole sordid story.

  27. marlene says:

    Poor John Dalli! For years now he’s had to deny all kinds of accusations made against him.

    He should be nicknamed Mr. Deny, deny, deny.

  28. pablo says:

    I beg to differ with Francis Saliba. The report says and not . In my corner that means knowledge at time of events being played out.

    We have been made aware of Debono:s antics but there are some which are still to come out. One particular event is known only to three other people including myself. To disclose it would mean being named by him in the media, unwelcome publicity and a defamation action which I would have to defend and win.

    He uses the threat of suing for libel very easily. He will be a spent force and forgotten in a few months so I cannot be bothered.

    • Francis Saliba says:

      You are not differing from anything I said. You are giving an example why it would be stupid to involve the Commissioner of Police every time one encounters an attempted abuse. I agree with you on that score.

  29. Evarist Saliba says:

    OLAF’s report says “…..(a person) approached the company using his contacts with Mr Dalli and sought to gain financial advantages…” .

    The meaning is far from clear.

    It implies that the person (whom we now know to be a Sliema busisnessman who is not likely to know anything about the product that the Swedish company that made the complaint has advertised in its own statement) initiated the approach, but an email now made public shows that this person was approached for a favour, and the mention of a financia reward came from others.

    I would have thought that if Dalli wanted to make some underhand money in such a delicate issue he would have chosen a better intermediary.

    Still, I hold no brief either for John Dalli or the company who wants to protect its income against a possible EU directive which could go against it.

    • La Redoute says:

      Why would Dalli have chosen a better intermediary?

      Dalli’s standards are dreadfully low. Hadn’t you noticed the way he dresses and his appalling lack of social manners?

  30. Angus Black says:

    Wow! The Dalli case gets more perplexing but clearer every hour. A statement by the Director of OLAF has just revealed that his office has evidence that Mr Dalli had met twice with the lobbyists for the Swedish Tobacco company.

    This contradicts Mr. Dalli’s declaration that he did not know what was going on, head on.

    Even if one gives him the benefit of the doubt, it appears that the doubt is hardly relevant any more.

    The OLAF official also stated that there is no ‘resignation in written form – everything was done verbally’. I find this a bit curious, or is it a Dalli tactic, gambling on the off chance that ‘lack of direct evidence’ as quoted a few hours prior, will somehow exonerate him and then he claims that he did not really intend to resign?

    Far fetched, yes, but would one put it past Mr Dalli? Very few would and even fewer will as more of the story unfolds.

    Sorry John, but while you were participating so willingly at ‘Inkontri’, OLAF was having a picnic in your office in Brussels, gathering enough evidence to prove their case. Now let Hamilton console you and Joseph reward you.

  31. Jacey says:

    Daphne, could you find out for us how many, if any, commissioners have been reported to OLAF in the last few years.

  32. Francis Saliba says:

    The dastardly tobacco lobby can now add John Dalli’s scalp to the millions of deaths it has caused by its merciless promotion of the cancerogenous and lung destroying poison that it puts on the market.

    Of course that pleases the critics of John Dalli but I look further afield and with dismay at the bigger picture of the serious harm being caused by the tobacco industry and its deadly merchandise.

  33. Min Weber says:

    Now we have to see whether the AG will take any action against Mr Dalli.

    Or against Mr Zammit, for that matter.

    One hopes Peter Grech comes up with a feasible strategy. Fast.

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