European Union Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli resigned today after being cited in a probe by the EU anti-fraud office over a tobacco-linked influence-peddling claim.
The European Commission said the Maltese commissioner left "with immediate effect" after informing Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso "of his decision following an investigation by OLAF, the EU's antifraud office, into a complaint" in May by tobacco producer, Swedish Match".
A Commission statement said the company alleged that a Maltese entrepreneur used his contacts with Dalli "to try to gain financial advantages from the company in return for seeking to influence a possible future legislative proposal on tobacco products, in particular on the EU export ban on snus."
Snus, or Swedish snuff -- also known as Nas in some countries -- is a moist powder tobacco originated from dry snuff. Its sale is illegal in the European Union but it is still manufactured and used in Norway and Sweden.
The entrepreneur allegedly said he would try to have the ban lifted.
"No transaction was concluded between the company and the entrepreneur and no payment was made," the Commission statement added.
An OLAF report sent to the Commission yesterday "did not find any conclusive evidence of the direct participation of Mr Dalli but did consider that he was aware of these events".