Friday 5 July 2013

John Dalli does a lot for charity but doesn't like to talk about it

The Bahamas: The home of charity

New revelations continue to emerge in John Dalli's car crash of a career. The sacked EU Health Commissioner now claims to be the victim of a conspiracy concocted by the New York Times, the European Commission, OLAF, the tobacco industry and the blogosphere. The motive behind this vast plot remains unclear, to say the least.

The Worst's Most Persecuted Man's undisclosed trips to the Bahamas by private jet are the latest pieces in the jigsaw, as the New York Times reported this week (the UK and European press continues to turn a blind eye).

Even while he was being investigated in the tobacco case last summer, he took at least two trips to the Bahamas as part of an effort to arrange the transfer of tens of millions of dollars.

Dalli has an explanation for this which you can take with as many pinches of salt as you wish...

In an interview on Friday, he said he was facilitating the transfer of a huge sum to a charitable project “to help people in Africa.”

This globe-trotting philanthropy is not something Dalli has mentioned before, including to fraud investigators OLAF. What are the details? Alas, Dalli will not say. Those Africans need their privacy.

Calling the project very personal and confidential, he would not discuss its details.

This secrecy appears to have extended to the Brussels village...

One European Commission official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of the issue, said Mr. Dalli worked to conceal the trip from European officials by calling them to say he was spending that weekend in Malta with his family.

Nothing suspicious about any of that [cough].

On top of this, it has emerged that John Dalli lied to OLAF last year—a sackable offence in itself...

Former European Commissioner John Dalli had admitted to police in December that contrary to what he told OLAF investigators, his former canvasser Silvio Zammit had alerted him to the EU probe when they spoke on July 6.

It is worth reading the Times of Malta interview to see how Dalli reacted to the journalist mentioning this deception. Here's a snippet...

“How do you know what I told the police? Now you must tell me how you know this from the police?”Asked whether this was the case, Mr Dalli said: “No, No, I am asking you. I won’t speak to you anymore... you are telling me that the police told you... I am going to stop here..."

The spluttering evasiveness of an innocent man?

The go-to person for Dalligate news at the moment is Daphne Caruana Galizia. Today, she has uncovered more details of the Dalli family's involvement with the Bahamas. In July 2012, Dalli's daughter Claire Gauci Borda signed a one year contract to hire a villa in the Bahamas for Tyre Ltd., a company that is registered at her father's address. She and another daughter of Dallis, Louisa Dalli, had been directors of the company since March 2012.

Tyre Ltd. is “principally involved in the trading of precious metals such as copper and gold” and, as Galizia notes: "Nowhere in the financial statements or other documents filed at Companies House is there any indication of charity work or donations to charity. There is, on the other hand, a reference to the impact of the price of gold on the future operations of the company, while the revenue in the first year of trading came entirely from trade in copper."

As of July 2012, the company was in debt.

At that point, the company had €316,354 in liquidity (cash and bank) and had borrowings of €535,480 described as an advance from its shareholder (the only listed shareholder at this stage is Derrick Germaine).

Yet despite the company’s precarious financial situation, just six months after the date of those accounts, it rented a villa in the Bahamas at $8,000 a month for 12 months ($96,000) with utilities and other expenses over and above that.

When Tyre Ltd personnel left the villa unexpectedly just two months after they rented it, they left the Bahamas in a private jet hired from third parties, that departed from Nassau at 1am. John Dalli was with them. The jet flew to Halifax, where it refuelled, then on to Iceland, then Brussels, then Malta. The total cost of this air-trip is estimated at $80,000.

Five weeks ago, on May 30th 2013, both of Dalli's daughters resigned from the company and a Brit, Martin Zuch, became director. 

The situation at present is that Tyre Ltd’s shareholding is held in its entirety by Martin Zuch personally. Zuch and Monthonkan are the only two directors. Claire Gauci Borda is the company secretary. The registered address remains John Dalli’s apartment at Portomaso.

Martin Zuch is an evangelical Christian who is one of the people responsible for a charity called Give Hope International, which appears to be legitimate... Zuch was neither a director nor a shareholder of Tyre Ltd when the villa in the Bahamas was rented. He entered the equation in May this year with an effective registered date of 25 December 2012.

Curiouser and curiouser. So, to summarise, we have a trip to a notorious tax haven which Dalli did not tell OLAF or the European Commission about. We have Dalli's assurance that his undisclosed trip to the Bahamas was philanthropic but he is not prepared to give any details about it. We have half the Dalli family, including papa Dalli, involved in a company which had no apparent charitable aims until five weeks ago when the whole thing was suddenly turned over to someone who had never been involved before.

Galizia spells out the implications in the comments to her excellent piece...

Why would somebody raising money for children in Africa spend $80,000 on a jet out of charity funds? Why meet in the Bahamas at all, when one lives in England and the other lived in Brussels at the time? Why then, in particular, that it couldn't wait until Dalli's EU meeting was over, so that he had to fly halfway across the globe and back in 24 hours, at his great age?

You are talking here about an EU Commissioner prepared to take the risk of being fired from his post (doing what he did is grounds for being fired) and a scandal in the international press (which has finally broken), so you have to be looking at the risk-reward ratio.

Indeed. Sounds like something Private Eye should be investigating.


nisakiman said...

In an interview on Friday, he said he was facilitating the transfer of a huge sum to a charitable project “to help people in Africa.”

Perhaps he's decided to move his family to somewhere like Zimbabwe.

The government there has a deeper understanding of the type of financial dealings that Dalli favours in pursuit of his philanthropic aims. I'm sure that paragon of probity Mugabe would welcome him with open arms.

Anonymous said...

After the flop of the Thanksgiving Mass in the Maltese town of Qormi - John Dalli's base - it is rumoured that his brother priest advised him that John's only option remains to go here: