• Sweden edition
 
Top EU official resigns after snus bribe probe

Top EU official resigns after snus bribe probe

Published: 17 Oct 2012 06:41 GMT+02:00
Updated: 17 Oct 2012 06:41 GMT+02:00

A complaint by Swedish Match about a suspected bribe meant to influence European tobacco policy has resulted in the resignation of EU health commissioner John Dalli, the European Union's top health official.

"Commissioner John Dalli has today announced his resignation as a member of the Commission, with immediate effect," the European Commission announced in a statement released on Tuesday.

Dalli's resignation, the first for a member of the Commission since 1999, came following the release on Monday of report detailing the findings of an investigation carried out by the EU's anti-fraud office, OLAF, into a complaint filed by Swedish tobacco company Swedish Match in May 2012.

The complaint alleged that a Maltese entrepreneur sought to leverage his connections with Dalli, also of Malta, in order to "gain financial advantages" from Swedish Match in exchange for attempting to influence "a possible future legislative proposal on tobacco products, in particular on the EU export ban on snus".

Snus – also known as Swedish snuff – is a tobacco product invented in Sweden in the early 1800s which has gained in popularity in Sweden after smoking was banned in restaurants in 2005.

The sale of snus is outlawed in the European Union, but due to exemptions, it is still manufactured and consumed primarily in Norway and Sweden.

The European Commission's Directorate-General for Health and Consumers Protection recently unveiled a proposal that would ban all smoke-free tobacco products outside of Sweden.

The Swedish government has for years been trying to sway the EU to allow snuff to be exported in Europe, referring to laws on free movement as well as public health.

"It turns out the snus ban was for sale," Swedish Match spokesperson Patrik Hildingsson told the Aftonbladet newspaper following the news of Dalli's resignation.

According to Hildingsson, the Maltese businessman came to a meeting and said that "we can solve this for a sum of money".

"It's remarkable; it's not in our DNA or our culture to accept something like this," said Hildingsson, refusing to elaborate on exactly how much money was mentioned in the offer.

OLAF found that "no transaction was concluded" between Swedish Match and the Maltese entrepreneur and "no payment was made".

"The OLAF report did not find any conclusive evidence of the direct participation of Mr. Dalli but did consider that he was aware of these events," the Commission statement said.

The investigation also found that the Commission's decision-making process "had not been affected" by the matter, but Dalli nevertheless chose to resign "in order to be able to defend his reputation and that of the Commission".

"Mr. Dalli categorically rejects these findings," the Commission said, adding that the OLAF report will be forwarded to the Attorney General of Malta who must determine if and how to pursue the matter.

Swedish MEP Christoffer Fjelllner of the Moderate Party who has long advocated for a lifting of the EU's snus ban said Dalli's resignation was "very serious and frightening".

"I get disappointed when I realize that my facts and arguments have likely been in vain," he said in a statement.

"Corruption at the top of the EU system undermines not only confidence in EU legislation, but also in the EU as an institution."

Following Dalli's resignation, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso announced that Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic will take over the health portfolio pending the appointment of a new Maltese Commissioner.

The Local/dl

Follow The Local on Twitter

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

08:45 October 17, 2012 by rise
I have never seen the logic in banning snus while smoking is still allowed. Why ban the less - by far - dangerous of the two? But now I have seen the logic. It spells "money", NOT "health".
21:32 October 17, 2012 by henry2
Re: John Dalli, according OLAF they have some proof of the communications. What at the moment ,is of interest ,is the other maltese of the same party. He said '' he followed orders''. By whom ??? Knowing the situation in malta that soon there be elections, and some MEP's are leaving the EU to try their luck at malta's election. These MEP's somehow might be paying their respect(in a polite way)to Mr Dalli,knowing the party's background, and it's election, also malta's ambassador in EU has been removed, it like Syria at home. Last:- Swedish match has other interests abroad, and if the deal got through, the EU will be flooded by snus. Who was pushing for this deal, swedeen or the western companies....OLAF, cannot reveal names, hope in the inquariy a full clear picture be given to the press.We cannot use corruption to fight corruption.
Today's headlines
Sponsored Article
On the move: Sweden's shifting mobility trends
House keys: Shutterstock.

On the move: Sweden's shifting mobility trends

Finding somewhere to live when you move to Sweden is a challenge. With changes afoot The Local caught up with an expert from letting agency Residensportalen to find out in what direction the market is going, and how Google Glasses may just help you find your dream home. READ () »

The Local List
Ten most disgusting Swedish foods
Salty liquorice, anyone? Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Ten most disgusting Swedish foods

Swedish food is, of course, a matter of taste. But it's mostly disgusting. Our loyal followers on Twitter and Facebook shared what they thought were the worst of them all. READ () »

Sweden wants cruise missiles 'for defence'
Defence Minister Karin Enström. File photo: TT

Sweden wants cruise missiles 'for defence'

The Swedish government has announced plans to beef up its defence forces by fitting its fleet of Gripen fighter jets with long-range cruise missiles. READ () »

Swede of the Week
Sweden's oldest would-be MP: 'They promised I wouldn't get in'
Swedes vote in the 2010 elections. File photo: Dan Hansson/TT

Sweden's oldest would-be MP: 'They promised I wouldn't get in'

Gösta Arvedson, 89, is the oldest Riksdag candidate in Sweden, but our Swede of the Week explains that the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) had to make some unusual promises for him to put his name forward. READ () »

Elections 2014
Most Swedes lack info ahead of EU vote
The Green Party is one of only two parties devoting their websites to the EU elections. Here campaign manager Emma Rung presents the party's posters. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

Most Swedes lack info ahead of EU vote

The majority of Swedes feel the country's political parties are not doing enough to inform them about the upcoming European Parliament elections. Only two of the eight parties have dedicated their homepages to the May 25th polls. READ () »

Fatal Norrköping Brawl
Local church tried to stop Norrköping murders
Swedish police on the scene following Monday's fatal brawl. File: TT

Local church tried to stop Norrköping murders

The Syrian-Orthodox Church in Ektorp had tried to quell tensions between two rival families just hours before bad blood spilled into a massive brawl and two brothers lost their lives. READ () »

JobTalk Sweden
'Foreigners don't need to show banks Swedish ID'
The bridge that connects Sweden to the European continent. File: L.E. Daniel Larsson/Flickr

'Foreigners don't need to show banks Swedish ID'

The Swedish agency that helps Europeans fight impediments to the EU principle of free movement has revealed an increase in complaints, including one from a foreign citizen unable to open a bank account in Sweden. READ () »

Eurovision 2014
Pig heart shatters in Sweden's Eurovision clip
Sanna Nielsen in the new clip. Photo: YouTube (screenshot)

Pig heart shatters in Sweden's Eurovision clip

Sweden's Eurovision hopeful Sanna Nielsen released the official video for the song Undo on Wednesday, a clip featuring leather, slow motion destruction, and a frozen pig's heart and some violence. READ () »

Software robot pinches Swedish flats in seconds
Swedish apartments. File: The Local

Software robot pinches Swedish flats in seconds

A Swedish landlord suspects that a property fixer has set up a software robot to sign up for new flats on the market within seconds, and is charging house hunters to use the service. READ () »

Swedish zoo fire 'kills only the spiders'
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Swedish zoo fire 'kills only the spiders'

Twenty-five fire fighters were on hand on Wednesday night when a fire broke out in a southern Sweden animal park. The vast majority of the animals were unharmed, but the cluster of spiders wasn't so lucky. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
On the move: Sweden's shifting mobility trends
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 23
TT
Gallery
Inside the 850-year-old king's coffin
Features
Sponsored: South-eastern Sweden offers Öland beaches and more
Gallery
Swedish underwear shop puts staff in front of the camera
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The Local's Property of the Week - Täby
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - India Unlimited
Features
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - A film, food, and finance feast
National
University applications rocket to record high
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 18-20
TT
Society
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Shutterstock
National
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Advertisement:
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

718
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com