Smells like an election
REVEALED • Dalligate - the OLAF report
Silvio Zammit tried his luck with ESTOC and then Swedish Match used Barroso’s former head of the legal service to set the EU wheels in motion.
28 April 2013, 12:00am
FULL REPORT Download the OLAF report from Google Docs or read on Scribd
Gayle Kimberley, the lobbyist whom Swedish Match paid €5,000 to secure access to John Dalli, was an accomplice with Silvio Zammit in the preparation and facilitation of contacts and the alleged bribe requests that brought down the former EU commissioner.
The 37-year-old lawyer and former employee of the European Council’s legal service was clearly identified by the EU’s anti-fraud office, OLAF, as having been involved in the attempt to ask Swedish Match and the European Smokeless Tobacco Council (ESTOC) for €60 million and €10 million, respectively, by creating the impression that John Dalli could reverse the EU’s ban on snus, the smokeless tobacco that Swedish Match produces.
The revelation is manifestly spelt out in the 43-page report that OLAF made of its investigation between May and September 2012, which states that both Silvio Zammit and Gayle Kimberley could have been accomplices in the alleged offence of bribery or trading in influence.
The report, obtained by MaltaToday despite having been kept under wraps by the Maltese police and the Attorney General, even during the ongoing judicial proceedings against Silvio Zammit, raises serious questions as to why the Maltese police refused to charge Kimberley when OLAF described her as “a person concerned.”
“Ms Kimberley was initially considered a witness, but based on the information gathered in the course of the investigation her status was changed to that of a person concerned (August 2012),” OLAF said in its final report.
“According to evidence collected it has ben ascertained that Kimberley was not telling the truth... depending on the interpretation of facts, she might be responsible for bribery or trading in influence.”
So far, Kimberley is being treated as a witness in the compilation of evidence against Zammit in Malta, where he is charged with bribery, trading in influence and money laundering. The impression given by prosecuting officers is that Kimberley - who became a person of interest in the OLAF investigation after her initial interrogation in Portugal on 14 June 2012 - is that she was not involved in Zammit’s bribe request.
In the course of investigations, OLAF found that Kimberley lied to Swedish Match when she claimed that she was present at a 10 February 2012 meeting with Dalli and Zammit, where the issue of money being exchanged in return for lifting the snus ban was floated.
The OLAF report, which has emerged six months after Dalli resigned on 16 October, after being read a covering letter to the report by European Commission president José Barroso, also categorically states that there is “no conclusive evidence of the direct participation” of Dalli “either as instigator or as mastermind of the operation of requesting money in exchange for the political services as expressed by Silvio Zammit.”
However, according to OLAF chief Giovanni Kessler’s letter to Attorney General Peter Grech on 17 October, “there are a number of unambiguous and converging circumstantial items of evidence gathered in the course of the investigation, indicating that Commissioner John Dalli was actually aware of both the machinations of Silvio Zammit and the fact that the latter was using his name and position to gain financial advantages.”
This claim had been made clear by Kessler in his press conference of the same date in Brussels.
And this very same conclusion appears to have been made based solely on the telephone calls made between Silvio Zammit and John Dalli.
Unknown or not to Kessler - but either way, conveniently omitted - is the entire list of telephone calls that Silvio Zammit made to not just John Dalli, but other PN and government officials that day, such as PN secretary-general Paul Borg Olivier, former minister Michael Refalo and then minister George Pullicino, conversations which could very well have been related to political ‘gossip’.
But Kessler also posited two scenarios: that if both Zammit and Kimberley were acting on behalf of Dalli, then they should be accused as accomplices in bribery; or if they were misusing Dalli’s name “to create credibility in the perception” of Swedish Match and ESTOC, then they should be charged with trading in influence.
So far, only Zammit has been charged for having allegedly requested €60 million from Swedish Match and then €10 million from ESTOC, in a bid to reverse the EU ban on the sale of snus, which Swedish Match can only sell in Sweden.
Kimberley, on the other hand, is a witness in this case, but police have given no indication of charges being issued against her.
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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