Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Shameless Grafter

Maltese John Dalli, the former Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs in the European Union resigned Tuesday due to charges of fraud.

The resignation occurred after the European Union's anti-fraud office, OLAF, presented the results of it´s investigation showing that a Maltese entrepreneur had approached the Swedish snus (Swedish snuff) producing company Swedish Match and, while referring to his close association with Mr. Dalli, tried to receive "substantial financial benefits" in exchange for influence over a future bill on removing the ban on sales of snus within the European Union.

However, no transaction occurred between Swedish Match and the entrepreneur. "We unfortunately found that the offer was credible and that it was linked to the Commission's political leadership. The professional decision was pretty simple: it was to say no. It is not in our DNA or culture - or the Swedish character, what do I know - that one works that way, it's completely unattractive" said a spokesperson for Swedish Match..

Dalli denies the charges, but the investigation by OLAF shows that he was aware of what had occurred between the Maltese entrepreneur and Swedish Match and had made no effort to distance himself from the matter or to report it.

Rumours claim that Dalli, when approached on the matter by José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, first refused to resign and only did so after being told that he would be fired if he didn't.

Unscrupulous and shameless use of one's position to derive advantages is always ugly. The statement by the spokesperson is rather touching though in all its innocence, because I could name at least five Swedish companies who under similar circumstances have - or would - accept such an offer without hesitation.

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