UPDATED/Malta Central Bank Governor-designate took money from tobacco giant to liaise with European Commissioner for Health John Dalli

Published: June 11, 2016 at 11:50am

UPDATE/When this post was published, Alfred Mifsud contacted me to point out that his fee from Philip Morris International was €2,750 a month and not €3,000. I have made this correction. He also gave me this comment, which I am reproducing in full: “Philip Morris never terminated my contract. I told them not to renew it when it expires as I was too busy and collective action law had passed. To this day they ask me to nominate a replacement which I refuse. John Dalli’s visits to my office twice a week should read twice a year.”

Alfred Mifsud, the deputy governor of the Central Bank who is set to become governor on 1 July, was on tobacco giant Philip Morris International’s payroll in 2011 and 2012, tasked with ‘backroom dealing’ with the then European Commissioner for Health, John Dalli, who was responsible for Europe’s tobacco legislation portfolio, and who is a close personal associate of Mifsud’s.

Mifsud also accepted entertainment from Philip Morris International over this period, travelling as the tobacco giant’s guest to football matches and other events.

Philip Morris International paid him €2,750 a month as a middleman or go-between with the European Health Commissioner, who was forced to resign in disgrace in another corruption scandal involving the Swedish tobacco industry.

Mifsud’s sole brief was to relay information and messages between John Dalli and Philip Morris International, because Dalli could not have private and unlogged meetings with the tobacco giant.

When the President of the European Commission forced Dalli to resign in October 2012, giving him half an hour to clear his desk, Philip Morris International informed Alfred Mifsud that his services were no longer required, and terminated his retainer fee.

During the period when Mifsud received money from Philip Morris International, European Commissioner John Dalli was seen visiting Mifsud’s offices in Msida “at least twice a week outside office hours” by eyewitnesses who spoke to this website. At the time, Dalli spent prolonged periods in Malta and flew to the island frequently from Brussels. This website had the information on the European Commissioner’s visits to Mifsud’s office a while ago, and reported on it, but it is only now that this piece of information can be tied together with the new information about Alfred Mifsud being in the pay of Philip Morris International.

When contacted for his comments about the matter yesterday evening, Mifsud admitted that he took money from the tobacco giant, but said that it was “as a consultant”. When asked what the cigarette manufacturers consulted him on, concerning Malta, he replied that it was “local markets, the tobacco industry and the class action legislation that was going through parliament at the time”.

The tobacco industry has a dedicated advisory council in Malta which performs this task, and beyond that, Philip Morris International has for many years retained a firm of lawyers to look after its interests in the Malta market. As law specialists who were formally retained by Philip Morris, they would have been monitoring the class action legislation themselves.

Alfred Mifsud has no background or involvement in the tobacco industry, and senior sources within that industry in Malta do not know him in this context at all and were surprised when told that Philip Morris International had been paying him.

Mifsud, who for many years was chairman of the Labour Party’s television and radio stations, has worked in financial services for some time, running Crystal Finance Ltd, an investment advisory firm which he sold when he became deputy governor of the Central Bank last year, and Allcare Insurance Brokers, which is currently in the process of being sold.

When I asked Mifsud to explain the European Commissioner for Health’s frequent visits to his Msida office after hours, he said: “This was in 2012 and he wanted advice on the Euro crisis. I met him in a personal capacity to talk about it.”

I asked him whether he thought it appropriate for a European Commissioner (who decided that he wanted advice on the Euro crisis from somebody who sold investment products in Malta, and whose portfolio was health) to visit an unofficial adviser at his office in Malta after hours, rather than calling him to a meeting at his Commission office in Brussels.

Mifsud replied: “I go to him, he comes to me, it doesn’t make a difference. I even met him in Brussels once. But mainly we met in Malta, usually over the weekends.”

When I asked him to explain why he met the Health Commissioner in Brussels, Mifsud said: “It was nothing, just a friendly meeting to say hello. It was at the beginning of his tenure.”

Mifsud confirmed that he was paid by Philip Morris International “for about 18 months” and that the relationship was terminated by Philip Morris when Dalli ceased to be European Commissioner.

Alfred Mifsud

Alfred Mifsud

John Dalli

John Dalli

philip morris international




52 Comments Comment

  1. Spiderman says:

    Another day, another scandal – and as time passes the filth keeps on surfacing. Now there will be the usual denials and threats of legal action – that doesn’t materialise.

  2. Lucienne says:

    Can the European Central Bank refuse his nomination?

  3. Liberata says:

    We should be crying. No wonder John Dalli was given minutes to clear out of his office. When will this nightmare be over?

  4. Joe Fenech says:

    Criminals!

  5. P Bonello says:

    Birds of a feather, flocking together. I wonder what their upcoming excuse is for all this corruption scandal?

  6. Jack Bean says:

    And then that sleaze-bag Dalli has the gall to call you a “terrorist”.

    Most people can see why you ‘terrorise’ them – basically because you have/get the facts. They sue for libel anyone who quotes your blog but they’re afraid to sue you directly on account of what you do and write.

    All democracy- and transparency-loving people are indebted to your sterling work in uncovering the systematic and planned sleaze and corruption perpetrated by seemingly ‘normal’ and ‘working-class’ people in high places.

    Again, well done, and thanks.

  7. anthony says:

    I do not think there is one single European Commissioner who would have laughed or cried. These people are no fools. They all know perfectly well that Malta’s present government and its institutions are rotten to the core.

  8. scotlandthebrave says:

    I don’t get people like that, him and Dalli, who are both well off, in their senior years, and they are still greedy for money. You can’t take it with you.

    • Jack Bean says:

      This (relationship) is not something that developed lately. They must have been friends (and more) since they were in opposite political camps but colleagues and one in business and how to conduct it.

      They both say they were ‘consultants’ tO Firm Tumas Fenech of Daewoo fame during the Golden Years of Labour.

      Now that Daphne is joining the pieces of the jig-saw puzzle we can see / understand why J Dalli had no qualms joining the labour bandwagon when he saw his PN leadership claim thwarted.

      Had his ambitions been fulfilled God only knows the level and extent of corruption between the two parties in tandem.

      As it is, the Taghna Lkoll mantra, as Daphne has often pointed out, means “It’s our turn now at the trough.” No more doubt about it now, they planned it (roadmap) and they bloody hell made sure to ” make the best” out of it.

  9. CAquilina says:

    Are there any of them that are not degenerate scum?

  10. Toni Borg says:

    Xi hmieg dak Dalli! KRIMINAL PERVERTIT SKJAV TAL-FLUS!

  11. r pace bonello says:

    Why does Dalli always, without exception, feature whenever there is something shady?

  12. Evarist Saliba says:

    When shall we hear upright Labour MPs saying that enough is enough?

    “We do not want to support through our silence and vote this web of corruption, that knows only venality”.

    I almost forgot. One did have the courage to stand up and be counted.

    • Joseph Barbara says:

      Are there any ‘upright Labour MPs ‘ left? I think not. When they ALL voted in favour of corrupt Konrad, they rubber stamped their lack of integrity and honesty.

    • La Redoute says:

      There are no upright Labour MPs. They’re all members of the Labour Party.

  13. Daffid says:

    Not only multinationals but Henley and Partners, Shiv Nair and all the other crooks who visited the Labour Party’s fourth floor, SOCAR and the rest included.

  14. Edward Sant says:

    One wonders if he too has the full trust of our PM. He certainly hasn’t got mine.

  15. NV says:

    Sadly this seems accurate in both perception and reality of Malta and how non-Maltese view Malta. But this was also the case pre 2004 and 2013. Don’t deceive yourself otherwise.

  16. Marco B says:

    Crystal Finance was sold last month. Prior to that he got his niece, now of Financial Services Arbiter fame, to step in as nominee for his shareholding and his oldest sons to run the business (in daddy’s shadow, I might add).

  17. Marco B says:

    As financial adviser of choice for all Labour politicians and Laburisti sal-mewt, that’s likely the tip of the iceberg.

  18. J Sammut says:

    The Finance Minister, Edward Scicluna, can’t have been pleased when he read these articles. OK, he picked a winning horse, but at the end he will be branded a cheat like the rest of the “Tagħna Lkoll” white collar gangsters he’s seen with. What a way to end one’s career.

    • r pace bonello says:

      What makes him any different?

      • J Sammut says:

        He’s not their type. And I for one thank God that we have someone who knows a thing or two about finance. That doesn’t mean I support all his policies.

      • Olaf Bartolo says:

        He must be “their type”. Notwithstanding all that has been revealed over the last few months he’s still there, isn’t he. And no one who isn’t “their type” would be there in the first place anyway.

      • J Sammut says:

        I beg to disagree, there are people who ride piggy back on the good name of others, who think that they are admired for their great talents.

        Muscat wanted a “formidable” team , would you think he would have won had he the Silvio Parnis type of candidates?

  19. Leli says:

    I can understand when someone says that he/she cannot see themselves voting Nationalist but I fail to understand how decent individuals can feel at peace with themselves voting Labour.

    • Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

      No, I can’t understand why anybody over the age of 25 would say they can’t see themselves voting Nationalist. I can understand being a bit antsy about it before that age, but once you grow up good and proper, you just have to do the rational thing, and your personal feelings shouldn’t come in to it.

      • A Caffari says:

        You assume that all people are grown up at 25. Remember that a vast number of 25-year-old Maltese are still living with their parents and following their tribal doctrine. Actually a better word would be dogma.

  20. devj8 says:

    While she pays special visits to the most corrupt states like Azerbaijan and Montenegro thus approving the government’s corrupt bilateral dealings.

  21. Pantheon says:

    He would have created trouble much earlier had he been kept here. Gonzi had to choose the better of two evils.

  22. Pantheon says:

    They would not dare open Pandora’s box.

  23. J. Miller says:

    Wheels within wheels, cogs within cogs. Cogs within Wheels, wheels ….. you get my point. Money talks and these kind of people will always be found where the money talks loudest.

  24. Cyrill Sammut (Sliema) says:

    More probably than not he was heavily outnumbered on this issue and couldn’t do otherwise. Because honestly, I can’t imagine him being the person who thought up such a perverted tactic.

  25. Henry S Pace says:

    Crooks are all over in this country .

  26. La Redoute says:

    What was the purpose of Commissioner Dalli’s “twice-yearly” visits to Mifsud’s office? They could not have had any legitimate business matters to discuss since Dalli was not supposed to be in business at all.

  27. RF says:

    Another money monster.

  28. Catsrbest says:

    That is exactly why they say that “democracy is not perfect”. In fact, according to Churchill; “It is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried from time to time”

  29. Catsrbest says:

    I think he simply goes there in the hope to also fool the supreme being just as he fooled us, or most of us.

  30. Carmelo Micallef says:

    My late reply to your interesting comment was due to time-zone difference.

    ‘This is 1987 once again’ is a point that I fully endorse in that a political creed of amorality dressed in tribal clothes is being propagated by a government of Malta, the one and same MLP/PL.

    Many of us are aware of what transpired in the 16 years up to 1987, never to forget, and many others in our country are not really aware.

    The Fenech Adami administrations of 1987 and thereafter were purposeful in not dragging our country into violent turmoil, instead adopting a somewhat equivocal attitude to past misdeeds for what was perceived as the best interests of all Maltese.

    I trust that come the next election, possibly 2018, our country will elect Simon Busuttil as Prime Minister and that he will be unequivocal and resolute in cleaning out our ‘Augean stables’ using the rule of law – unlike 1987.

    For our next Prime Minister to effectively bring to justice the current perpetrators of corruption plus prise out the strategically placed plants and their roots from all governmental agencies is a Herculean task – the new Prime Minister will need a clarity of purpose and steel-like resolution to even enter upon such a mission let alone succeed.

    I have 100% confidence that Simon Busuttil is such a man, but he will need a similar clarity of purpose and strong resolution from the Maltese people for the same end.

    The amoral political creed of the MLP/PL works by feeding the worst vices of man. It is an evil.

    There is now no room for equivocation – we must nail our courage to the sticking-post.

    Simon Busuttil has already done this. He will not back down in the face of evil even if he has to stand alone. He is a good person.

  31. NLC says:

    How many more back handers will be uncovered regarding the Governor Designate before he takes office? I think he should be hauled to Brussels along with Mizzi, only in front of a different panel.

  32. carmendelia says:

    A band of thieves who stick together.

  33. J Sammut says:

    Muscat took everyone by SURPRISE, like he always does.
    And the fools found a good “excuse” on which they could hang on and “try” him!

    • Olaf Bartolo says:

      You’re mistaken. Muscat fooled (surprised?) those who failed to see through him and who gave him their vote in 2013 thinking he would keep his promises. That’s hardly “everyone” or “always”, J Sammut.

  34. Tabatha_White says:

    Philip Morris doesn’t just pay the ferryman: it ensures the boat is fitted with Rolls Royce engines.

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