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Compilation of evidence against former deputy mayor: Silvio Zammit met lawyer and Swedish Match lobbyist and asked for €60 million bribe - police
12 December 2012, 12:00am
Former Sliema deputy mayor Silvio Zammit met with a Swedish Match lobbyist for the European Smokeless Tobacco Council at his Sliema restaurant on 13 February, 2012, where he asked for a €60 million price to meet European Commissioner John Dalli.
Following a two-hour testimony by police inspector Angelo Gafà, Zammit was remanded in custody until next Monday's sitting.
Silvio Zammit is charged with bribery and trading in influence, in an alleged request for a €60 million bribe he made to influence tobacco legislation that was being spearheaded by Dalli when he was European Commissioner.
Testifying in the compilation of evidence against the political canvasser, police inspector Angelo Gafà from the economic crimes unit said Zammit met Johann Gabrielsson of Swedish Match and Maltese lawyer Gayle Kimberley to discuss the offer, at his restaurant Peppi's Kiosk in Sliema. Both Gabrielsson and Kimberley were formerly employed at the European institutions, as first revealed by MaltaToday.
Zammit was said to have asked for €60 million to be paid to Dalli so that Swedish Match could meet the commissioner, and that he later solicited a €10 million bribe from the smokeless tobacco lobby ESTOC, later calling John Dalli after his ESTOC contact.
The Maltese police reopened the OLAF investigation, widening the original OLAF report's conclusions by interrogating more persons. The investigation was a "double check" on the OLAF report, Gafà said, but added that investigations are still ongoing.
Gafà said the ensuing investigation led by OLAF, the EU's anti-fraud unit - whose investigations started on 25 May - produced phone calls and text messages extracted throughout 2012, when Zammit brokered a meeting between Kimberley and Dalli at the latter's Portomaso office in St Julian's on 6 January 2012.
According to Kimberley's minutes, she described Dalli as having "an open mind and not preconditioned on lifting the ban on snus". Snus is banned in the EU except in Scandinavian countries, but Dalli was conducting a tough review of the Tobacco Products Directive to make cigarette packaging less attractive and also to retain the snus ban.
In her minutes, Kimberley added: "If there was a commissioner with balls, this is the one."
The phone calls extracted by OLAF indicate that Zammit called Dalli after his meetings or calls with Swedish Match officials.
Gayle Kimberly - today a legal advisor to the Lotteries and Gaming Authority - confirmed to police that Silvio Zammit had made the €60 million proposal, while ESTOC secretary-general Inge Delfosse recorded Zammit on her iPhone asking her for €10 million to set up a meeting with Dalli.
L-R John Dalli, Gayle Kimberley, Silvio Zammit
In court, Gafà also said Kimberly had had an extra-marital relationship with LGA compliance officer Iosif Galea, a man who is in business with Silvio Zammit through the circus promotion company JS Events. "She was being blackmailed and threatened about what to say," Gafà said in court.
Gafà said Kimberley and Galea were in Portugal in June 2011 on official business representing the gaming authority, when the pair were approached by OLAF investigators, who interrogated her first. She later complained to Galea, for having introduced her to Zammit. Subsequently, Zammit would have been alerted to the approach by OLAF by Galea.
Zammit was later said to have been furious with Kimberley, who was passing on her own information to OLAF. Kimberley was said to have realised that Zammit was on a fishing expedition to extract information from her, and that he had been informed to the OLAF investigation by Dalli. Zammit would have responded that the Swedish Match affair was just a business deal, telling Kimberley: 'why should they get rich alone?'
Zammit, who has denied the charges, was twice arrested to be interrogated, telling police interrogators that Dalli had nothing to do with the entire affair, although he had earlier on stated that he was not alone. He also said he had never mentioned Dalli's name with Swedish Match, but said that he met Dalli after OLAF interrogated him back in June 2012.
In his testimony, Gafà said Zammit had promised Kimberley a consultancy post with British American Tobacco, through his contact with Thomas Hammargren, for whom he had organised a meeting with John Dalli. Hammargen is corporate and public affairs officer for BAT subsidiary Nicoventures.
Interrogations and searches
Interrogations in Malta were carried out by Commissioner for Police John Rizzo, deputy commissioner Joseph Cachia, assistant commissioner Michael Cassar and Inspector Angelo Gafa.
Zammit remained silent throughout all interrogations, except at the beginning, having told the police that OLAF director-general Giovanni Kessler was carrying out a "theatrical" performance and that the "offer" he had made to Gabrielsson and Kimberley was only to get Swedish Match off his back. Zammit said that he would only talk in court: "He said that he had the evidence to contradict the police, but when we asked him where this evidence was he said: 'north pole, south pole', and he laughed," Gafà said.
Gafà also said Zammit was asked numerous times where he was in collaboration with Dalli or alone, to have risked the career of a European Commissioner. Police relieved Zammit, Iosif Galea, and Kimberley of their personal and work computers to extract email communications.
Zammit, interrogated again and kept under arrest between the 31 October and 1 November, insisted that OLAF had not done their job right, and denied having offered Kimberley a BAT consultancy. Zammit said that Kimberley's husband Matthew, had also got in touch with Zammit by visiting him at his shop to learn what he had told police.
Gafà said the cybercrime unit had found deleted emails from Gayle Kimberley to Silvio Zammit, and an email to ESTOC secretary-general Inge Delfosse that had been drafted by Kimberley. Nothing was found in Zammit's computer except for an email from Kimberley dated 5 March 2012 on Delfosse.
Gafà said Zammit told him that he was not acting alone, but when it was pointed out that he could be implicating John Dalli, Zammit retracted his statement. John Dalli, who was interrogated on 12 November, had refused a lawyer to assist him throughout the interrogation. Gafà said investigations on Dalli are still ongoing.
Contacts with Swedish Match
Swedish Match's senior vice president Frederik Peyron told Commissioner of Police John Rizzo that he had learnt about Zammit's offer from vice-president for public affairs and ESTOC chairman Thomas Hildingsson.
According to Peyron, the offer was for a €10 million cash payment to Dalli and another €50 million to remove the snus ban. The offer was made to both Swedish Match and ESTOC. This led Swedish Match to report the bribe to the Swedish government and the European Commission.
Earlier in 2010, Silvio Zammit had travelled to Sweden to have lunch with a Swedish Match official and discuss snus legislation. He met Inge Delfosse, who passed on literature to Zammit to have it passed on to Dalli.
There were 18 telephone calls and emails to Delfosse from Zammit in 2011, with Zammit telling her in one of them - as recounted by Gafà in court - "Dalli has seen Swedish Match point" and that "this was the Commissioner who was not afraid to take any risks", citing Dalli's previous change in GMO legislation as example.
Contact with ESTOC secretary-general
In mid-March 2012, Zammit wrote to both Delfosse and Hammargren telling them: "I have something very interesting to talk to you about."
Dalli had met tobacco industry representatives back on 7 March 2012 to discuss the Tobacco Products Directive. According to Delfosse, DG-Sanco representatives did not include Dalli's positive comments about snus in their minutes, and later complained with Zammit that there were "bad rumours flying about in Brussels", whereupon she asked him for a meeting with the Commissioner.
Delfosse asked Zammit how much he would charge for the meeting, and on 29 March, he returned with a €10 million offer, having already asked Swedish Match for the €60 million offer back on 15-16 March.
Zammit would have told Delfosse that "my boss has to meet your boss" and added that she "must not mention Dalli's name" - the conversation was recorded on her iPhone.
Delfosse told police that she was convinced that Zammit was acting on behalf of Dalli all throughout.
Police inspector Angelo Gafà also said correspondence dated 15 August 2012, showed that Dalli had through his lawyers, written to Zammit about the allegations in his regard.
Zammit replied that if there was money to be shared, this was to be shared with ESTOC secretary-general Inge Delfosse. When asked about this claim, Delfosse was said to have expressed surprise at learning of what Zammit said.
Gafà said that Delfosse said there was "never any way any way he could get that money out of ESTOC and ESTOC has its own integrity."
Meeting with Johan Gabrielsson
Gafà said that Gayle Kimberley had described Zammit as the "gateway to John Dalli" to Gabrielsson.
Zammit boasted of having close links to Dalli, being one of the few who had his personal cell phone number, and that he was his most prominent campaigner in Sliema, Zammit's hometown.
According to Gabrielsson, Zammit would have told him that Dalli wanted to meet someone who could make a financial commitment, and that he had started to understand snus, relaying the message that 'lifting the ban on snus would be costly'.
When he asked how much this would cost, Zammit allegedly took out his own heart medication and told Gabrielsson: 'Better take one of these', as he told him the price to pay was €60 million.
Gabrielsson said that Kimberley appeared embarrassed at the offer, and told police: "I was convinced that the way Silvio spoke, it was clear the money was going to Dalli. I asked him: How can one expect a listed company to fork out €60 million and nobody notices? And he said: 'Where there is a will there is a way... just consider the money you will earn when the ban is lifted.'
Gabrielsson claimed Zammit said Dalli was prepared to go all the way, and that he later went to his hotel, called Swedish Match vice-president Thomas Hildingsson, and then asked Kimberley to cut of all links with Zammit.
After this meeting however, Zammit made contact with ESTOC secretary-general Inge Delfosse, and made her a €10 million offer.
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