OLAF carried out illegal wiretapping, MEP calls for Giovanni Kessler’s resignation

German MEP Inge Graessle says supervisory committee’s report on breaches by OLAF mean anti-fraud unit’s chief must go.

Matthew Vella
21 March 2013, 12:00am
OLAF chief Giovanni Kessler
OLAF chief Giovanni Kessler

Pressure is mounting on the man who led the investigation into former European Commissioner John Dalli, after Green MEP Bart Staes today relayed shocking statements by a member of OLAF's supervisory committee alleging illegal wiretapping of conversations by the subjects of the 'Dalligate' controversy.

In a press conference in the European Parliament today, Staes said that OLAF had suggested to a Swedish Match lobbyist to stick to a misleading version of events - allegedly to bolster the strength of their investigation into John Dalli.

Staes also said today that member of the OLAF supervisory committee had reported illegal conduct by the anti-fraud unit. Former MEP Herbert Bosch, also a former president of the EP's budgetary control committee, told the committee that:
  • OLAF had organised illegal wiretapping without the knowledge of the people being investigated;
  • That interviews of their subjects had been recorded without their knowledge;
  • And that OLAF director-general Giovanni Kessler had participated in the investigations, which was a problem since his role was to determine whether an investigation was being conducted properly or not.

"We cannot now give our assent to a new regulation for OLAF until we know what went wrong in the investigation," Staes said.

Fresh calls for Kessler's resignation came from the European People's Party's coordinator of the budgetary control committee, Inge Graessle.

"The Greens have shown that the plaintiff Swedish Match was prompted by OLAF to make false statements in front of Parliament. Already two days ago, the OLAF Supervisory Committee pointed out to Parliament severe breaches of fundamental rights - the recording of a telephone conversation and its evaluation without a judicial authorisation, as well as the instigation of third persons to produce such records of telephone conversations.

"Now the instigation of a third party, in this case Swedish Match, to make a false  statement in front of Parliament adds to this record," Graessle said.

The MEP demanded that all breaches in the OLAF supervisory committee's report be made public. "The Presidents of the institutions have to stop covering up the breaches: everything should be put on the table. It is unacceptable that the European Parliament itself covers up the fact that it has been lied to all along."
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.