ECJ’s AG advises against Dalli’s latest plea

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The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice has advised against former European Commissioner John Dalli’s latest plea for compensation for non-material damages as a result of the European Anti-Fraud office’s (OLAF) actions which led to his resignation from the post in October 2012.

If upheld by the European Court of Justice, this will be the latest blow in Dalli’s bid to overturn a judgment by the General Court which in 2019 dismissed his actions for compensation.

In 2015, the General Court had already turned down another lawsuit by Dalli to annul the decision of his dismissal from office and in the process award him €1.9 million in material damages.  This plea was subsequently dismissed on appeal by the ECJ.

This time, Dalli is claiming non-material damages caused by the alleged unlawful conduct of the European Commission headed by José Manuel Barroso and OLAF.

The AG, Maciej Szpunar has argued that impartiality cannot be questioned by the actions of the then director Giovanni Kessler during the course of the investigations and in the gathering of the information. 

But Szpunar is advising the high court based in Luxembourg to reject that argument, noting “OLAF could legitimately ask the Maltese authorities for the telephone logs and the incompatibility of those requests with Maltese law cannot be attributed to OLAF.”
Dalli was forced to resign in September 2012 following accusations by Barroso based on the OLAF’s investigation which revealed Dalli’s close affinity with Swedish snuff tobacco company seeking to end a ban on its products. 

Szpunar quoted from the 2019 GC’s judgment saying that “Dalli has not shown the existence of unlawful conduct on the part of OLAF or the Commission …has not established the existence of a sufficiently direct causal link between the conduct complained off and the alleged damage, or even the existence of the latter.”

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Consequently, no serious breach of a rule of law could be found against that institution and allegations of wrongful conduct on the part of the Commission or its President had not been established, therefore the claim for damages were unfounded, Szpunar concluded.

A final ruling on Dalli’s present case is expected by the end of the year.