A crucial telephone recording in the Dalligate scandal might have been acquired illegally, according to a Belgian privacy watchdog. In the conversation, businessman Silvio Zammit is allegedly heard asking tobacco lobbyist Inge Delfosse for €10 million to set up a meeting with his “boss” over the possibility of lifting an EU ban on snus, a form of smokeless tobacco.

If a Belgian court were to declare this recording illegal, it could jeopardise the case as the evidence could be declared inadmissible.

The Belgian privacy watchdog was asked for an opinion following a complaint filed by Mr Zammit, who questioned the legality of the recording made by Ms Delfosse on March 29, 2012.

Mr Zammit is facing criminal proceedings before a Maltese court on charges of bribery and trading in influence when John Dalli was EU Health Commissioner. Mr Dalli was forced to resign by then European Commission president José Manuel Barroso in October 2012, following an investigation by the EU’s anti-fraud agency (OLAF).

Documents seen by The Sunday Times of Malta show that the Commission for the Protection of Privacy (Belgium) declared there could be a case for criminal proceedings under the Electronic Communications Act, since the call was allegedly recorded without Mr Zammit’s knowledge. The authority cannot further action, as such matters are within the jurisdiction of the Belgian police.

Mr Zammit’s lawyers, Chris Busietta and Edward Gatt, said that no request for investigation had been filed yet with the Belgian police as their client only received feedback from the Belgian authority a few days ago.