John Dalli is set to face criminal charges over an attempt by his aide to solicit a €60 million bribe to help overturn an EU-wide ban on snus, a form of smokeless tobacco. 

At the time the alleged bribe was solicited, Dalli was the European commissioner for health leading reforms to the EU's tobacco directive. 

His aide Silvio Zammit was charged in December 2012 with trading in influence and complicity in the €60 million bribe request from a Swedish tobacco company. 

Dalli, however, escaped charges, only returning to Malta once the newly-elected Labour government removed police commissioner John Rizzo from his job. 

Rizzo has always maintained that Dalli too had a case to answer to. 

His successor as police commissioner Peter Paul Zammit decided there was not enough proof to bring charges against the former EU commissioner. 

Dalli was forced to quit as EU commissioner in October 2012 after a investigation by the EU's anti-fraud office Olaf uncovered the bribery attempt. 

Contacted by Times of Malta, Dalli said the charges were part of a deal struck between current police commissioner Angelo Gafa and former Olaf head Giovanni Kessler. 

Gafa was the lead investigator on the case back in 2012.

Olaf had cited "unambiguous circumstantial evidence" of Dalli knowing about Zammit's attempt to solicit the €60 million bribe. 

Dalli claimed that the charges are all part of the "campaign" mounted against him in recent weeks. 

"It is another fraud," Dalli told Times of Malta. 

The case against Dalli is set to begin next week. 

A controversial career

Dalli was appointed to the European commission in 2009, in what was widely seen as a move by then prime minister Lawrence Gonzi to kick his political rival upstairs. 

The former EU commissioner, who spent several stints in cabinet, and who had overhauled Malta's taxation system, has long faced accusations of corruption. 

He resigned as minister for foreign affairs in 2004 over claims he was awarding contracts to a travel agency owned by his daughters. 

Dalli's ministry was found to have made over €90,000 worth of bookings through this agency. 

He unsuccesfully ran for leadership of the Nationalist Party in 2004 before being appointed foreign minister. 

A few months after resigning as EU commissioner in 2012, Dalli found himself in the Labour fold. 

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat appointed Dalli as his "consultant" on health reform. 

Muscat defended the appointment, even after further details begun to emerge about three suspicious trips Dalli took to the Bahamas in the lead up to his resignation from the commission. 

In a Facebook post, opposition MP Jason Azzopardi demanded answers from Muscat and former police commissioner Peter Paul Zammit over their defence of Dalli. 


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