Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had a one hour meeting with Former EU Commissioner John Dalli in which they discussed the latest controversy over his trips to the Bahamas and agreed there would be “no change” to his consultancy position at Mater Dei.
The information was given by Mr Dalli himself at an hour-long press conference in which he fielded questions about the revelations concerning the Bahamas which started with a story in the International Herald Tribune on Monday.
However, in comments given to timesofmalta.com Dr Muscat corroborated what Mr Dalli had said though he gave much less detail.
Mr Dalli said he had gone over the whole story with the Prime Minister and even showed him some documents which he was unable to give to the press due to “professional secrecy”.
He said he will not speak for the Prime Minister but felt the meeting was “amicable” and had ended on a positive note. When asked about the outcome, he said: “the outcome was, no change”.
The Former Commissioner defended his three trips to the Bahamas in 2012, which he claimed consisted of a brief stopover in July, a five-day stay in August and a three-day stay in September.
He rebutted the claims of the Barry Connor, the Bahamian man making the allegations against him, insisting that he was not there to invest his own money or move his own funds into an account in the Bahamas but to discuss a charitable venture.
He said the venture, which was being discussed with a group of evangelical Christians, would consist of a fund that would invest in African business ventures that would use their profits to help communities in need.
“Perhaps Mr Connor misunderstood this part. This idea would work through commercial projects but they would have a charitable goal,” Mr Dalli said, adding that the whole venture could be worth billions of dollars.
He said in depth studies made on the projects that are under consideration for investment through this fund, could ensure some 28,000 direct jobs and assist as many as 13 million poor people and feed 7 million children in places like Ethiopia, the Niger Delta, Nigeria and Ghana.
When asked why he had not informed the European Commission about his involvement in such a commercial activity, be it of a philanthropic nature, Mr Dalli said he felt he did not need to.
Mr Dalli was partly reacting to the latest set of revelations, which show that the villa in the Bahamas was rented in the name of a Maltese registered gold-trading company of which his daughter Claire Gauci Borda is the secretary.
He said this company was also a hybrid of sorts which acts commercially but has charitable ends in helping source gold from independent miners in Africa to help them avoid the cartels that often deny such small mining interests of their fair share of profits on gold trading.
However, he said Tyre Limited had acted as a coordinator of discussions on this “initiative” and that is why it had undertaken to take a lease contract with $8,000 per month on the villa.
Speaking about the timing of his first flight in July, Mr Dalli insisted that this had nothing to do with the OLAF investigation.
The July journey to the Bahamas began in Cyprus the morning after Mr Dalli called his former Canvasser Silvio Zammit at 6pm on July 6. Mr Zammit had just been interrogated the day before by the EU Anti Fraud Agency (OLAF) in connection with the snus bribe affair, which eventually ended up forcing the resignation of the Former Commissioner in October.
Mr Dalli said that he has emails showing that he planned the July 7 trip as early as June. “So this idea that I somehow jumped on a plane after I spoke to Silvio Zammit to do God knows what in the Bahamas is simply ridiculous,” he said.