Silvio Zammit, the man accused of bribery and trading in influence when John Dalli was EU Commissioner for Health, has filed a criminal complaint with the Belgian police over an allegedly illegal telephone recording.
Back in May, Belgian investigators had asked the European Commission to lift the diplomatic immunity of officials from the anti-fraud agency OLAF. The officials had been accused as far back as 2013 of making recordings of phone conversations without judicial authorisation, which is illegal under Belgian law.
This included a crucial telephone recording in the Dalligate scandal, where Mr 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. This recorded phone call was instigated by OLAF.
Last week, the College of Commissioners decided to lift the immunity of OLAF chief Giovanni Kessler, who will now potentially face the Belgian prosecutor on questions related to the Dalli investigation.
Now, accompanied by lawyer Edward Gatt, Mr Zammit has filed a complaint asking the Belgian police to interview Ms Delfosse about how she recorded the phone call.
"On March 29, 2012, at 3.18pm, I had several calls with the named Inge Delfosse of the European Smokeless Tobacco Council Aibl," Mr Zammit told the police.
"When I was investigated by OLAF of the European Commission, I was notified that the named Inge Delfosse had recorded our phone call. During this phone call she had never notified me that the phone call was being recorded. The call was recorded from her office.
"I insist that she is interviewed about the way she obtained my phone call. In accordance with Belgian law, she cannot record a phone call without my being notified of it."
According to news portal New Europe, a Commission spokesperson described the lifting of Mr Kessler’s immunity as ‘partial’. A source told New Europe that the Commission only lifted Kessler’s immunity as regards one specific piece of evidence in question.
Mr Kessler will now potentially face the Belgian prosecutor on questions related to the Dalli investigation. The successful conclusion of the OLAF investigation led to the forced resignation of former Health Commissioner John Dalli in 2012.
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