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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Recent stink round former EU chief in tobacco affair

Knives are again out for José Manuel Barroso, the previous European Fee chief, after a Belgian courtroom discovered his prime sleuth responsible of gross misconduct within the greatest EU corruption scandal earlier than Qatargate.

“So many irregularities and lies to [the European] Parliament and all those that requested the appropriate questions. I am nonetheless appalled by the entire case,” mentioned Ingeborg Gräßle, a centre-right German MP and Barroso-era MEP.

“The case is just not closed. It ought to simply be the start,” she mentioned.

There ought to be “a deep and thorough authorized investigation” of what actually occurred within the so-called Dalligate affair 12 years in the past, mentioned Belgian Inexperienced politician and former MEP Bart Staes.

“The reality will prevail,” mentioned John Dalli himself — the disgraced ex-EU commissioner on the centre of the fiasco.

They spoke after a Belgian courtroom handed down a suspended jail time period final Friday (15 September) for a former head of the EU Fee’s anti-fraud workplace, Olaf.

Dalligate noticed Barroso immediately fireplace Dalli, then Malta’s EU well being commissioner, over Olaf allegations of tobacco-industry affect peddling.

However the Belgian courtroom discovered the ex-Olaf head, Giovanni Kessler, responsible of illegally wiretapping Dalli’s cellphone, opening up previous cans of worms.

The alleged €60m bribery scheme was the most important EU corruption case earlier than final yr’s revelations that Qatar was handing out suitcases of money to pleasant MEPs.

And Barroso is now a freshly (18 August) retired lobbyist for US funding financial institution Goldman Sachs and an educational.

However the identical politicians who felt Dalligate left too many unfastened ends are actually calling for full transparency.

“Now the European Fee and its secretariat normal want to attract conclusions and eventually deliver the reality in regards to the Dalli case to sunlight,” Gräßle, who used to chair the EU Parliament’s budgetary-control committee, mentioned.

For Staes, there have been nonetheless far too many “doubtful issues on this file”, akin to an unsolved break-in at an anti-tobacco NGO in Brussels on the time, in addition to EU Fee “delaying ways” on MEPs’ enquiries.

” every little thing with a number of years of hindsight, it factors to Dalli being lured right into a lure, with the consequence (and aim?) of delaying and weakening the necessary TPD laws,” Staes mentioned, referring to the Tobacco Merchandise Directive, an EU regulation regulating the multi-billion euro sector.

“If that’s the case, the massive query is who set that lure — indications are ESTOC, Swedish Match and Philip Morris — and with what political backing?” he added, mentioning the European Smokeless Tobacco Council (a lobbying organisation) and two tobacco companies.

“Did José Manuel Barroso cowl up Kestler’s actions? Why did he dismiss his well being commissioner John Dalli so rapidly?” mentioned José Bové, a left-wing French politician, who was additionally a Barroso-time MEP.

“These questions are as soon as once more topical. We might lastly be getting into the second and ultimate stage of Barrosogate, during which gentle will likely be shed on this political scandal,” he added, renaming the occasions.

Dalli’s bunker

Barroso himself is but to touch upon the Belgian ruling and its implications.

In the meantime, the 74-year Dalli had erected a rustic home with a basement bunker in Malta when final visited by EUobserver in 2018.

He has additionally been linked to a Ponzi-like scheme, which swindled American Christian seniors out of their life financial savings, however he strenuously denies his innocence, whereas persevering with to relive his Barroso defenestration.

“As I walked into his workplace, Barroso ambushed me saying that he had a report from Olaf which strongly implicated me,” Dalli mentioned in his assertion on the Belgian courtroom verdict.

“He [Barroso] stored studying from a letter he acquired from Kessler purportedly primarily based on this report, containing data which I used to be not aware of,” Dalli went on.

“My termination was deliberate by president Barroso and his group for a while,” Dalli mentioned.

And Olaf had plotted “to exclude me from the [EU] Fee and disrupt the tobacco directive which I used to be driving with my group,” he additionally mentioned.

The potential return of Dalligate comes after the present EU Parliament president promised a significant clear up over Qatar.

It additionally comes as the present EU Fee chief, Ursula von der Leyen, seeks to shine her picture in view of a possible bid for a second time period.

And Dalli’s honour apart, discovering out what the tobacco {industry}, Barroso, and Kessler actually did in 2012 past the unlawful wiretapping incident is extra related than ever in right this moment’s political area, Staes mentioned.

“The tobacco {industry} foyer continues to be extraordinarily highly effective and pervasive,” he mentioned.

“A overview of the TPD is coming. That is in the end about company pursuits versus public well being,” the Belgian politician mentioned.

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