The Malta Independent 30 May 2024, Thursday
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Dalli transferred millions in secret Bahamas trip – IHT

Malta Independent Monday, 1 July 2013, 11:17 Last update: about 11 years ago

EU anti-fraud agency OLAF may reopen its investigation against former Commissioner John Dalli following the discovery that he travelled to the Bahamas last summer to transfer tens of millions of dollars, the International Herald Tribune reports today.

The IHT quotes a commission official who said that Mr Dalli had concealed the weekend trip to the Bahamas – which took place on 7-8 July, 2012 – by stating that he intended to spend the weekend in Malta. The Bahamas resident who rented Mr Dalli’s family a villa on the island, Barry Connor, said that he was told by Mr Dalli that he planned to transfer large amounts of money for an unspecified venture.

When the newspaper contacted him, Mr Dalli said that he had gone to meet unidentified friends, and that he returned to the Caribbean country at least once that summer to help arrange financing for a philanthropic project.

The former commissioner was also asked about sums of up to $100 million, and did not deny the amounts, but said that the money was not for him. He claimed that he was acting on behalf of others who wanted to set up a trust which aimed to help people in Africa, though he refrained from divulging further details as he claimed that the project was “very personal” and “very confidential.”

When contacted, OLAF said that it was unaware of Mr Dalli’s trip and said that it would look into the matter.

‘‘As is usual practice, OLAF will duly consider any relevant new evidence, within its remit of competence,’’ the office said in a statement.

The IHT reports that Mr Connor’s statements do echo Mr Dalli’s claims of a philanthropic mission.

‘‘Normally you get some people coming here with some sort of a scheme, and they’ve got investors and they’re all going to do this and do that. No, they just had money coming and they were going to invest it into charities,” he said.

Mr Dalli had been forced to resign from the European Commission last October, after OLAF accused him of being aware that his associate Silvio Zammit had asked for a €60 million bribe to lift an EU ban on snus, a form of smokeless tobacco native to Sweden, where it remains legal.

He has strongly defended his innocence in the case, and last month, Police Commissioner Peter Paul Zammit announced that the police had found no criminal case against him. The Maltese government, deeming him rehabilitated, subsequently appointed him as the head of a reform body within the administration of Mater Dei Hospital.

In the meantime, the conduct of OLAF – particularly of head Giovanni Kessler – in the investigation of Mr Dalli has come under increasing scrutiny and criticism.

Calls for his resignation have come from the European People's Party he belongs to – spearheaded by the EPP’s coordinator in the Budgetary Control Committee Inge Grässle,  – as well as from other political groups, most prominently from Green MEPs José Bové and Bart Staes.

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