Ex-European Commissioner John Dalli is back in Malta after almost four months abroad, during which he told police he was recovering from a medical condition.

Attempts to contact Mr Dalli directly proved unsuccessful. However, sources said he returned earlier this week.

A receptionist at his Portomaso offices also confirmed he had been there yesterday morning.

The police have been waiting for Mr Dalli to return so they can take action over accusations he was involved in an attempt to obtain a bribe from tobacco firm Swedish Match in return for a lifting of the EU-wide ban on snus, a smokeless tobacco that can only be sold in Sweden.

He had been expected to appear in court in December but had produced a medical certificate saying he could not travel or face “psycho-social exposure”, then later renewed the certificate.

His return comes after a new development in Brussels raised fresh questions about the rigour of the investigation by EU anti-fraud agency OLAF, the probe of which led to his resignation.

The agency never made a legal case against Mr Dalli but its director general, Giovanni Kessler, had spoken of “un-ambiguous circumstantial evidence” that the former commissioner knew that a request for money had been made in his name.

Mr Dalli’s former canvasser, Silvio Zammit, has been charged with bribery and trading in influence for allegedly asking for €60 million in return for the snus ban to be lifted.

Gayle Kimberley, who acted as the Maltese representative for Swedish Match, testified against Mr Zammit.

However, doubts have been cast on her credibility after a Swedish Match representative confirmed to Green MEP José Bové she had lied to the tobacco company and OLAF about a meeting she was meant to have had with Mr Dalli, during which he gave his first clear indication he was willing to consider lifting the ban.

Investigators at OLAF and the Maltese police, however, have argued the development does not affect the case as the contradiction in the version presented by Dr Kimberley had been exposed long ago and is not material to the changes.


Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us