Dalli: Barroso knew OLAF report 'did not hold water'

John Dalli says European Commission president José Manuel Barroso refused to wait for scrutiny of OLAF report because he knew it would not hold water

European Commission president José Manuel Barroso knew that the OLAF report on John Dalli would not hold water, the former Maltese EU Commissioner said.

Dalli today reacted to the European Court sittings held on Monday and Tuesday on his case of unfair dismissal against the European Commission.

In a statement he said that although commissioner president José Manuel Barroso issued press statements during the hearings, he chose to maintain full media silence as he did not feel that he should in any way interfere in the court proceedings.

Pointing out that “Barroso admitted that the Secretary General Catherine Day was in communication with OLAF about the progress of the report,” Dalli said this revelation shatters the often repeated assertion that OLAF is independent from the Commission

“This contradicts statements made earlier by Barroso that he had no contact whatsoever with OLAF about the progress of this report,” Dalli said, adding that Barroso also admitted that he relied on the covering letter and intimated that he hardly read the report. 

“A reading of the report shows that the conclusions in this letter were not substantiated.  Also the report shows total submissiveness of OLAF to the tobacco industry.”

Moreover, the former PN minister said that the commission president’s claim that he gave Dalli an option to give a full and convincing explanation, was proved to “a very late invention by the Commission.”

“I could not give a full and convincing explanation when the details were being hidden from me as Barroso refused to let me even read the covering letter or see the report.”

Dalli added that if he had the report he could have easily given a full and convincing explanation about the meetings with the alleged tobacco lobbyists, the accusation that he was minimising contacts with his aide Silvio Zammit, the circumstantial evidence that had been put together by OLAF chief Giovanni Kessler.and the timeline which came out from the statements by Swedish Match and ESTOC employees themselves about the “entrapment that they planned and executed.”

Furthermore, Dalli said that the commission had prepared two press statements on the report’s outcome and his termination, with both statements handed to the commission’s spokesperson services before his meeting with Barroso.

The former health commissioner also noted that Barroso admitted that “he did not even think about seeking the comfort of a scrutiny of the OLAF report by the Supervisory Committee before acting on it.  In fact he tried to ridicule the idea.”

In such exceptional circumstances, Dalli said, “someone acting in good faith and in a proper precautionary manner, would have done so.  The precautionary principle is an important practice in the decision making process of the Commission.”

According to Dalli, Barroso failed to wait for the scrutiny by the committee because he “knew that the report he had from OLAF would not hold water” and the commission president “was afraid that a review by the Supervisory Committee would prevent him from pursuing his objective of terminating me.”