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OLAF investigative action ‘matter for courts not political institutions’ – Commission

European Commission ‘under duty’ to refrain from commenting on legality of OLAF’s investigative action.

miriam
Miriam Dalli
13 June 2013, 12:00am
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso


The political and judicial dimension should be distinguished, the European Commission said today on the John Dalli case.

The Commission is facing pressure mounting from various quarters to force the resignation of the OLAF chief Giovanni Kessler in connection with how investigation into alleged bribery involving the former European health commissioner was conducted.

The EPP has now joined the European Greens in calling for Kessler's resignation. The groups are insisting that Kessler's position has become "politically and legally untenable".

But the European Commission is now insisting that it was "important to distinguish between the political and the judicial dimension of the Dalli case". "On 16 October 2012, Mr Dalli, in agreement with the President, decided to resign because his position as Commissioner had become politically untenable. The Commission has constantly stressed its attachment to the presumption of innocence which it has respected in all situations," it said.

Dalli is insisting that he was "forced to resign". In an extensive interview with MaltaToday, Dalli also accused Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso of knowing that the OLAF report was "based on a lie".

In the two pages which were missing from the leaked OLAF report made public by MaltaToday, it turned out that the report failed to point out that Dalli never knew lawyer Gayle Kimberley had approached him on behalf of Swedish Match. According to her own email to her employers of 6 January, Kimberley claimed she never told Dalli that she was "representing Swedish Match, just giving the objective position of suns producers and users".

The Commission is now insisting it will not "interfere in the conduct of OLAF's independent investigations" - citing article 12 of the OLAF Regulation and article 3 of the Commission decision establishing OLAF which provides for the complete independence of OLAF when it carries out investigations.

It considers that according to the law, OLAF must be independent of any political interference in order to be able to play its role.

"In order to respect OLAF's independence and in the light of on-going national judicial procedures, the Commission is under a duty to refrain from commenting on the legality of OLAF's investigative action. This is not a matter for political institutions but for the courts," the Commission said today.

In April, senior MEPs from the Budgetary Control Committee that is responsible for the monitoring of OLAF called for the resignation of the head of the EU's anti-fraud agency, Giovanni Kessler, after the annual report of the independent five-person supervisory committee questioned the legality of methods employed during the four-month investigation into bribery allegations against former EU commissioner John Dalli.

Green MEPs Bart Staes, vice-chair of the European Parliament's budgetary control committee, and José Bové, vice-chair of the EP's agriculture committee, said the OLAF supervisory committee's report had made Giovanni Kessler's position as OLAF director "untenable".

Refusing to involve itself in the 'legality' of the issue, the Commission said it was willing to strengthen further of the protection of financial interests of the Union and the defence rights of people concerned by OLAF investigations, notably by making new proposals to amend the Regulation which governs OLAF in the context of its proposal to create a European Public Prosecutors Office.

"The Commission is also willing to look beyond individual cases at the more systemic issues that have been raised by the Parliament and the OLAF supervisory committee, in cooperation with the other institutions, to further improve the legal and administrative arrangements regarding OLAF, going beyond the provisions of the current revision of the OLAF regulation."

The Commission added it had taken the initiative to bring OLAF and its Supervisory Committee together to agree on a roadmap of measures that can ensure a constructive and loyal working relationship between the two.
miriam
Miriam Dalli joined MaltaToday.com.mt in 2010 and was assistant editor fr...
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THOMAS BORG
Time will come when Malta will join the UK and USA in another saner alliance. Just wait and see.
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THOMAS BORG
Time will come when Malta will join the UK and USA in another saner alliance. Just wait and see.
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The common EU citizen should refuse to acknowledge the legal jargon behind which these people hide and ask himself the simple question: Is the EU a democratic society? The answer should be a big YES, meaning that majority rules. Therefore all we need is some capable body to start a pan European petition demanding the resignation of Kessler, Barroso and Day. If we manage to convince enough people to sign we should expect that these persons to have the decency to resign on their own and stop challenging the public opinion upon which our democracy is based. If they do not resign then we can conclude that democracy in Europe is dead and if democracy is dead than the people will be at liberty to force these people to resign using other means. In my opinion this saga originated by the tobacco multi billioners who know very well that everyday they manage to stall the tobacco directive they are pocketing millions, then they took aboard Kessler, Barroso and Day who later found the help of some of our local politicians that were more than happy to help and remove Dalli who for years was a spine in their side, without taking into consideration the damage they will be doing our country in the process. However these persons did not take into account Dalli's tough survival instinct and the ever growing opposition to their corrupt ways of doing business and now the tide is turning and soon they will be swallowed into the abyss. I again ask for this petition to help Europe obtain a clean fresh start and teach persons that are in power in the EU administration that nobody is above the law and democracy and that it is impossible to challenge public opinion and win.
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roderick degiorgio
So John Dalli lost his job based on a lie.The other key actors in the lobbying scandal are guilty of innocent.
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Of course the Commission would not comment to explain the political dimension of forcing Mr John Dalli out of Office at the material and opportune time to help rid of a thorn in GONZIPN just before the election. Of course Barroso would not accept that he has been found out. Not only should Giovanni Kessler be SACKED for his totally biased and unprofessional report but Barroso must also be forced to resign NOW and not wait till 2014. HIS INVOLVEMENT IN ALL THIS NASTY FRAME UP MUST BE ADMITTED AND DUE JUSTICE DONE.
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George Muscat
Does the system of scratch my back and I'll scratch yours is a motto of the European Union? Its seems like it. Let Justice prevail otherwise the trust in this club will diminish to scrap value. Give the Maltese a chance to weigh again the advantages and disadvantages of this RU Club. Take for instances the illegal emigrants issue, who helped us most the EU or the USA? We were left to join so that the bigger piece of Europe won't be exposed to the Mediterranean sea but we will take the burden together with Lampedusa.