Ex-EU Commissioner Loses Suit Over Scandal-Driven Ouster

(CN) – The European General Court threw out a lawsuit Thursday by a former EU health commissioner who resigned when he was implicated in a bribery scheme with tobacco lobbyists.

John Dalli, a resident of Malta, became embroiled in scandal in 2012, midway through what would have been a four-year term with the commission.

That year tobacco producer Swedish Match complained that Silvio Zammit, a Maltese businessman with ties to Dalli, requested a bribe of 60 million euros from the European Smokeless Tobacco Council, a lobby otherwise known as Estoc, to ensure that Dalli would kill an EU law banning the sale of snus tobacco.

Dalli resigned in October but complained days later that he had been denied the right to defend himself, accusing the director-general of OLAF, the European Anti-Fraud Office, of breaching his right to the presumption of innocence.

The European Court of Justice rejected Dalli’s claim that his resignation had been improper, and Dalli brought a new suit in 2017, this time demanding 1 million euros in damages from the fallout of the OLAF report.

On Thursday, the General Court’s Sixth Chamber snuffed out this case as well.

“The applicant is wrong to complain that OLAF allegedly ignored the facts referred to by him in the reply, since those facts could be established or analysed only following the investigation and not at the stage of the evaluation of information gathered,” the ruling states. “Likewise, the claim that the complaint was allegedly based on false information is not relevant, since the accuracy of that information could not be confirmed or refuted at that stage. It is necessary, for those same reasons, to reject the complaint, raised at the stage of the reply, that OLAF infringed the principle of objective impartiality by failing to check the seriousness of the facts evoked in the complaint, without it even being necessary to examine its admissibility.”

Given the accuracy and detailed nature of the information made in the complaint, the court said Dalli has no basis to say “that OLAF should, a priori, have doubted the credibility of those allegations.”

%d bloggers like this: