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OLAF in renewed interest in Dalli, interviews Bahamas landlord

OLAF interviews Bahamas resident who alleged that John Dalli wanted to transfer millions in cash to Caribbean island

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
27 September 2013, 12:00am
John Dalli appears to be a person of interest for OLAF after the agency dismissed an initial complaint as a civil dispute.
John Dalli appears to be a person of interest for OLAF after the agency dismissed an initial complaint as a civil dispute.


Investigators from the EU's anti-fraud agency OLAF have spoken to Barry Connor, a Bahamas resident who alleged that former European commissioner John Dalli had flown to the Caribbean island to organise a multi-million transfer back in the summer of 2012 while Dalli was under investigation by the same agency on a bribery allegation.

Originally dismissed by OLAF as a civil dispute about unpaid rent on his Nassau villa, the complaint was revealed in July by the International Herald Tribune. Today, the Herald's parent newspaper New York Times reported that OLAF had opened an official investigation into John Dalli.

The New York Times claimed the investigation focuses on "two or more trips" Dalli made, during his time as health and consumer protection commissioner.

In a comment to MaltaToday, an OLAF spokesperson said the anti-fraud agency was "looking into new elements that have emerged in the context of media reports".

"As a general rule, OLAF does not confirm or deny the involvement of any natural or legal persons in its investigative activities. We do not comment on the nature or purpose of our investigative activities, nor do we confirm whether on-going investigations are pending, unless such investigations are already in the public domain.

"It has become apparent that the press have spoken to a number of persons who have stated that they have recently been interviewed by OLAF in relation to the case concerning former Commissioner Dalli. We can therefore confirm that we are currently looking into new elements that have emerged in the context of media reports. You will understand that we cannot provide you with any details."

On his part, John Dalli said that he was not informed of OLAF's interest in the allegations. The former commissioner had held a press conference on the allegations.

The New York Times said it was Barry Connor, the man who rented a villa he owns in the Bahamas to a company represented by Dalli's daughter, who was interviewed for two days by OLAF officioals. '"We went through everything that we had,"' Connor was quoted as telling the New York Times. The investigators "now know who was in the house and what was being said and what they were talking about... They are going into a lot of depth."

Connor alleged that Dalli had told him that he was planning to transfer large amounts of money for an unspecified venture.

But Dalli claims his first trip to the Bahamas, where he travelled by private jet overnight and returned to Brussels upon landing in Nassau, was to discuss the financing of a philanthropic venture with Africa as its target continent.

He later flew to the Bahamas where he stayed in Connor's villa to meet various entrepreneurs who were organising or proving finance for this African venture.

Dalli denied holding any accounts in the Bahamas, and that his work on the project was gratis - now he has told the New York Times that he was not involved in the charitable project.

Dalli resigned from Commissioner on 16 October 2012, after an OLAF report alleged there was circumstantial evidence that he was aware of an attempt by an associated of his, Silvio Zammit, to solicit a €60 million bribe from Swedish Match to lift an EU ban on the trade of snus. The resignation delayed the Tobacco Products Directive, a vote on which is expected for the 8 October inside the European Parliament - supporters believe the last-minute postponement of the vote is largely down to intense lobbying from Philip Morris representatives, and that the late vote could mean the Directive is not made into law by the end of 2013.

The leaked OLAF report later showed that OLAF's conclusions were based on circumstantial evidence and that Dalli could not be identified as having authored a request for a bribe.

In Malta, Zammit was charged with bribery and trading in influence, charges he denies.

Yesterday in court, former Commissioner of Police John Rizzo said he wanted to press charges against John Dalli and that he had the support of the Attorney General, but that he could not press charges because Dalli was away in Brussels seeking medical treatment.
matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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NIGEL DUNKERLEY
Anyone of us try not to pay a parking fine for €25.00 and all hell turns lose. Blessed are those in power because they can do whatever they want.
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Karl Cucciardi
Some are still running after Dalli's blood.
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Manuel Scicluna
Where ever there is smoke- J.D. is raking over the ashes.