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Kessler denies OPM contact, Dalli says email correspondence exists

OLAF chief Giovanni Kessler denies John Dalli’s claims that he was in touch with Lawrence Gonzi’s secretariat, but former commissioner suggests emails were exchanged prior to his resignation in October 2012

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
3 July 2014, 1:38pm
Giovanni Kessler
Giovanni Kessler
Former European Commissioner John Dalli is accusing the chief of the EU’s anti-fraud agency OLAF, of having liaised with the office of Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi in 2012, some 24 hours before the commissioner was forced to resign over allegations raised in an OLAF bribery investigation on 16 October 2012.

Dalli and Giovanni Kessler are engaged in a war of words over comments the former commissioner passed to a mutual source, where he suggested that Kessler would “face problems” in Malta over procedural irregularities in the way he conducted the Dalligate investigation.

Kessler, who claims he was told by this source that he faced arrest if he goes to Malta to testify on bribery charges lodged against Silvio Zammit, today denied having been in contact with Gonzi’s secretariat throughout the investigations.

But Dalli has insisted, citing an email between OLAF and the Office of the Prime Minister discussing the investigation.

“On 15 October 2012, two hours before the [OLAF] report was handed by Kessler to Barroso, I am informed that there was a virtual chat between a ‘L.O.U.I.S.’ at the OPM in Malta, and a ‘Dr. GK’. The same people corresponded together by email on 22 October 2012 in Italian, to fix a meeting,” Dalli said in a statement.

Kessler is denying Dalli’s claims that their mutual source said Kessler mentioned a taped interview with Swedish Match lobbyist Gayle Kimberley and conversations with Gonzi.

“[Kessler] has never mentioned such issues to any journalist. The quote attributed to him is entirely false,” OLAF said in a statement Thursday morning.

Dalli is insisting that the “unsolicited information” Kessler passed to the journalist in question, was “tantamount to a confession of what he knows he did wrong”.

Dalli said that the source continued that “at the time Kessler was feeling important because he was talking to a prime minister,” a detail he did not include in his first statement since he considered this as the opinion of the source.

Dalli said that OLAF’s Antonio Miceli was already in touch with the Maltese anti-fraud coordination (Afcos) within the prime minister’s Internal Audit and Investigations Department (IAID) – then headed by Rita Schembri – between July 2012 and 5 October 2012. He mentioned an email passed from Miceli to Schembri during this period, titled ‘Raport Dalli’.

Dalli also said that the European Commission had asked OLAF for a date of closure of the investigation on the 5 October 2012, the same day that José Manuel Barroso was in Malta where Lawrence Gonzi was hosting the 5+5 meeting of Mediterranean states.

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.