The Malta Independent 18 July 2024, Thursday
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John Dalli, fraudster ‘frantically’ sought pilot to fly out of Bahamas privately

Jacob Borg Sunday, 17 May 2015, 11:30 Last update: about 10 years ago

Former EU Health Commissioner John Dalli and fraudster Mary Swan "frantically" sought a pilot in order to fly out of the Bahamas privately during an August 2012 meeting.

Mr Dalli was under investigation by the EU's anti-fraud agency OLAF at the time over his undeclared meetings with tobacco lobbyists. His trips to the Bahamas sparked a second investigation, which is still ongoing.

This week Mr Dalli lost an unfair dismissal case against the EU Commission before the European Court of Justice. The European Court of Justice ruled that Mr Dalli resigned voluntarily following a meeting with then EU Commission President José Manuel Barros in the wake of accusations of trading in influence in the snus scandal.

Mike Brady, who was present for the meeting and now represents eight US investors who lost their money in a scam after they wired it to a company operating from Mr Dalli's Portomaso office, says the EU Commissioner wanted to leave the Bahamas without taking a commercial flight.

"During the three days that we were there, Mary Swan and John were frantically trying to find a private way of leaving the Bahamas. I know this first hand as I was asked if I had any connections to a pilot who might possibly be able to fly them out of the Bahamas, which I did but could not secure it," Mr Brady told The Malta Independent on Sunday.

Explaining his presence at this meeting, Mr Brady says he was trying to secure funding from Ms Swan for a Christian organisation looking to create jobs in South Carolina through a prototype engine generator and clean water system.

Ms Swan led them to believe she was the granddaughter of a rich family in the gold industry, and Mr Brady says Mr Dalli - an accountant by profession - "seemed to have firsthand knowledge of this and also seemed to hold the position of approval for Mary Swan on financial matters."

 

Fraudster and EU Commissioner described as business partners

Mr Brady says Ms Swan called him two days before the 24 August meeting, saying that if he could make it to the Bahamas in two days' time, EU Commissioner John Dalli would be there, and if he approved the project it would receive funding.

Convicted fraudster Mel Tari, an evangelical preacher who was found guilty of conning an heiress out of half a million dollars was also present at the meeting.

Asked about Mr Dalli's relationship with Ms Swan, Mr Brady says they were operating as business partners.

"John Dalli went over our projections with us and pointed out some areas that we might improve and other areas which might be conservative, but basically approved the project with Mary Swan."

The funding deal ultimately turned sour when Mr Dalli and Ms Swan tried to convince Mr Brady to hand over a prototype of the engine and switch the manufacturing of the system from South Carolina to Malta.

Mr Brady refused, as the whole point of the project was to create jobs in South Carolina. Mr Brady also feared that if he handed over the prototype it might be "copied and stolen."

The so-called "gold pool" scam was already operational at this point, and the eight investors Mr Brady now represents had wired a total of $600,000 to Tyre Limited, which at the time had John Dalli's two daughters Louisa, and Claire Gauci Borda as its directors.

The Malta Independent on Sunday has seen various documents bearing Mrs Gauci Borda's signature confirming the transfer of funds.

The documents bear Tyre Limited's letterhead, together with what is apparently the company's slogan which reads "Restoring the precious things of the earth" alongside Mr Dalli's Portomaso address.

The group of southern American Christian investors were told that their money would be used to fund African miners who were unable to get financing from the banks.

By playing on their Christian sensibilities, they were led to believe that part of the funds would be used to help orphans in Africa and The Philippines.

The eight investors asked Mr Brady to represent them by virtue of his meeting with Mr Dalli and Ms Swan in 2012.

The EU's anti-fraud agency OLAF have contacted Mr Brady as part of their investigations into Mr Dalli's Bahamas trips during his tenure as EU Health Commissioner.

 

Investors told monthly statements not issued to keep overheads down

The 'gold pool' investors were told by Debbie Wicker - who acted as an intermediary in the US between the investors, Mary Swan and Tyre Limited - that Tyre Limited would not be sending monthly statements in order to keep overheads down and maximise the return on investment.

"In these types of investments you get a letter of acceptance for placement of your funds, a letter of receipt of wired funds and then every year you get your profit sharing pool and the accounting is done at that time for the year...

"The reason I have to go back so often to Tyre's corporate office is that the files of all of the account holders inside the pool account are audited by a professional team of auditors every six to eight weeks so they make certain they are on top of all funds coming in and out of the pool account. All profits are under contract with the mines/refinery and Tyre Ltd," Ms Wicker told investors.

The money was transferred by the investors to an HSBC Malta bank account owned by Corporate Group, operated by Mr Dalli's daughters.

Explaining this arrangement to investors, Ms Wicker says: "We use the banks to take in and receive money and to house profits and to disburse, but the contracts are with small miners and with Tyre and are completely accounted for with necessary guidelines and procedures for investments of this nature.

"[She[ keeps overheads down and keeps her investment operations as private as possible which her large investors require and feel safer with her due to this aspect of her process. If she had to provide what you are asking and sends monthly or quarterly statements then she would have to hire staff to handle [it] and that would have to come out of the profits that she is sending back to participants..."

Ms Wicker resigned from her intermediary role at the end of 2013 when she found out that Ms Swan was probably scamming the investors. Mr Brady says that initially Ms Wicker was convinced Mr Dalli was not part of the scam, describing him as an "honourable man".

"The only reason I can give you for Debbie's intentional persuasion about John Dalli's lack of involvement in the gold pool is that she and John seemed to be very close from a business stance as she and John had travelled through Europe while John was under investigation by OLAF," Mr Brady said.

The investors have submitted a complaint to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Malta Police, with the latter officially confirming that they are investigating the case.

Mr Dalli this week denied any involvement in the scam, and outrageously accused this newspaper of conspiracy for extortion and blackmail, saying that this newspaper was in league with OLAF and the defrauded American investors. Although denying any involvement in the scam, he offered absolutely no explanation for the fact that all the companies involved in the scam are registered at his own address, nor did he offer any explanation about his daughters' involvement in the companies and the altercations with the American investors.

This publishing house categorically denies the serious allegations made by Mr Dalli that its editorial team is involved in a conspiracy for extortion and blackmail.


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