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[WATCH] EC confirms Barroso’s advisor first to raise alarm of Swedish Match bribe

Dalli ‘resigned for political reasons, because his position had become politically untenable’ – Commission

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
30 April 2013, 12:00am
Michel Petite is a lobbyist for Philip Morris, who also advises Jose Barroso on an ad hoc committee on ethics and lobbying.
Michel Petite is a lobbyist for Philip Morris, who also advises Jose Barroso on an ad hoc committee on ethics and lobbying.


The European Commission has confirmed that tobacco lobbyist Michel Petite - formerly the head of the European Council's legal services and now an advisor to President José Barroso - was the first to make contact with the EC on the alleged bribe request made to Swedish Match.

Petite informed Commission secretary-general Catherine Day of a recording in which Maltese businessman Silvio Zammit had asked for €10 million from the European Smokeless Tobacco Council (ESTOC) in an alleged bid to broker a meeting with then EU commissioner for health John Dalli, to discuss the EU's ban on snus.

The contact was made some time after 29 March, and before Swedish Match officially filed its complaint on 21 May with Catherine Day.



Petite, who works for lobbyists Clifford Chance - whose clients include Philip Morris and Swedish Match - is today an advisor to Barroso on a committee to regulate lobbying inside the EU.

A spokesperson for the EU today declared that John Dalli resigned back on 16 October 2012 for "political" reasons, after it was finally ascertained that the anti-fraud agency OLAF had found no direct evidence of Dalli's involvement in an alleged bribe, to lift the ban on snus.

MaltaToday published the leaked report on Sunday 28 April.

The EC today said that Dalli's resignation had been politically motivated, and insisted that the decision to resign was taken by Dalli "in agreement with President Barroso, as his situation had become politically untenable."

Dalli has claimed he was forced to resign by Barroso, shortly after being read the covering letter to the OLAF investigation, which has been kept under wraps by the Maltese authorities whose responsibility is to investigate the report's findings.

"The reasons behind this resignation were political. The findings then had been that his position had become political untenable," the EC spokesperson told the press today at the Commission's midday briefing.

"With this leak, everyone is now free to report on the confusion that led Dalli to resign... but this does not change the fact that we are not able to comment on the ongoing criminal procedure," the spokesperson said.

Silvio Zammit is facing charges of money laundering, bribery and trading in influence for requesting €60 million from Swedish Match, ostensibly to have the ban on snus lifted. Gayle Kimberley, a lobbyist appointed by Swedish Match to secure access to Dalli, was identified by OLAF as a potential accomplice to the alleged bribery. No charges were issued against her by the Maltese police.

John Dalli was however revealed in the OLAF report to have "tarnished" the EU's reputation by virtue of his contacts with the tobacco industry, specifically for meeting ESTOC chairman Thomas Hammargren in 2010, and then meeting Kimberley on 6 January 2012 as well as keeping in contact with Silvio Zammit, a political canvasser of his, who had acquired some form of commercial interest in the lifting of the snus ban by virtue of his contact with Kimberley and Swedish Match.

The OLAF report also claimed that Dalli, who was spearheading a revision of the Tobacco Products Directive that included the ban on snus, had been warned by the Commission not to have meetings with members of the tobacco industry.

"There is little I can add to what had already been put out in the public domain about the relations with the tobacco industry and how the Code of Conduct for relations between public authorities and industry has been respected," the EC spokesperson said.

The Commission refused suggestions that at the time of the resignation, it had implied that Dalli had acted inappropriately. "Mr Dalli resigned for political reasons. At the time we emphasized that he was presumed innocent until proven guilty. We did not pass any judgement on Mr Dalli."

The Commission has refused to speculate on whether it will compensate Dalli on his dismissal.

The former commissioner is pursuing legal action in the European Court of Justice against the Commission, citing unfair dismissal.
matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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Karl Cucciardi
It was stated that the timing of telephone calls to J Dalli were very circumstantial evidence. Was the timing of Barroso's meeting GonziPn in Malta just before J Dalli was made to resign also so circumstantial. E.U. = European Unjustice.
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Josanne Cassar
If it was not for MaltaToday, these questions would not have been raised to the Commission's spokesperson, and we would not have known more details like the fact that it was lobbyist Michel Petite who devulged the issue with the Commission. Good work MaltaToday.
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Josanne Cassar
Peter Schwarz on 26 June 2009 commented as follows on the World Socialist Web Site about Barroso’s extension to a second term as EU Commission’s President: “What makes Barroso so attractive is his ‘remarkable adaptability’, the German FAZ newspaper notes. The former Maoist, now a leading conservative politician, is renowned for his ability to adapt to the interests of the strongest business or finance lobby. The FAZ describes his boundless opportunism as follows: “Under his direction the commission was the engine of the Single Market in the days when liberalisation was still the rage in Europe. Later, when globalisation began to show its less attractive side he discovered social legislation, even though the EU only has a limited competency to intervene on such issues. Then when the job was to save banks and support automobile companies in the financial crisis, the officials of his commission did not want to look like spoilsports.” More comments on Barroso’s ability to adapt to interests of strong businesses and lobbyist are superfluous.
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Daniel Cassar Darien
Aktar ma jmur aktar juruna kemm huma tal-affari taghhom loaf, imma mhux biss. Qed juruna wkoll kemm Barroso thalli jigsaw a, u li xi hadd F'Malta ried itappan il-karriera u isemm John Dalli. J'Alla ma ndumux ma naraw li tohrog il-verity' u min Hayward u Hayward impatient ta' ghemilhom li Sara kollox hammer ukoll lil Malta.
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Josanne Cassar
"With this leak, everyone is now free to report on the confusion that led Dalli to resign...". Who would believe that this comment was made by a Commission’s spokesperson? Two words used by the spokesperson namely ‘leak’ and ‘confusion’ denote the frustration the Commission is finding itself in after sacking an EU Commissioner for no concrete or solid reasons. Barroso has a lot of explaining to do and he better does this quick before media comments take over, notwithstanding the Commission’s excuses that no one should comment on ongoing criminal procedures.
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Christoforo Colombo has discovered America!!! Of course the forced resignation of Dalli was POLITICAL. It was political because he was becoming a thorn in the back of GONZIPN, the great ally of BARROSO and the PPP. Of course it was political coming as it did a month or less before the Maltese Parliament voted out the GONZIPN Government. There is no doubt it was political but the question now arises. WAS IT JUSTIFIED? In my opinion it was a massive frame up of the type specialized by some GONZIPN cronies. And since it was a frame up orchestrated through the help of Barroso, Barroso must be made to resign. He has committed too much blunders, too much prejudice and too much injustices.
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Josanne Cassar
The Commission's spokesperson is referring to the publishing of the report by MaltaToday as a "leak". How can the Commission be considered as being at the forefront of safeguarding and defending human rights within the EU and more importantly leading by example to the world at large when the Commission refers to the publishing of the accusations against an EU Commissioner, the highest position within the EU, as a leak? The more the Commission speaks about this issue, the more it is exposing itself to confusion and ridicule. How can other more powerful Member States accept this state of amateurism from the Commission????
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Josanne Cassar
A spokesperson for the EU today declared that John Dalli resigned back on 16 October 2012 for "political" reasons. Can the Commission be more explicit what it exactly wishes to mean by resigning for political reasons? What sort of political reasons?