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Rizzo wanted to arraign Dalli separately – former assistant commissioner

Former assistant commissioner Michael Cassar: ‘Final conviction only possible by arraigning Dalli and Zammit together – AG and police agreed not to charge Kimberley’

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
15 October 2014, 1:25pm
Clockwise from left: John Dalli, John Rizzo, Silvio Zammit, Peter Grech (Attorney General) and Gayle Kimberley.
Clockwise from left: John Dalli, John Rizzo, Silvio Zammit, Peter Grech (Attorney General) and Gayle Kimberley.
16 September - adds clarification

A former police investigator in the Dalligate affair – Michael Cassar – told the privileges committee on Wednesday that both the police and the Attorney General had agreed to separately charge Silvio Zammit and John Dalli on bribery and trading in influence.

The investigation, originally carried out by EU anti-fraud agency OLAF, had been carried out afresh by former Commissioner John Rizzo, assistant commissioner Joe Cachia, Cassar and Inspector Angelo Gafà.

At the time, Cassar headed the Economic Crimes Unit. Today he is head of the Maltese Security Service.

He told the privileges committee that at the same meeting, it was decided that Gayle Kimberley – whom OLAF had suggested should be charged for her role in the alleged bribery – should not be charged.

The Maltese lawyer whom Swedish Match paid €5,000 to provide them with access to former EU commissioner John Dalli, was suggested by OLAF investigators that she be prosecuted in connection with their investigation into a €60 million bribe.

Dalli resigned on 16 October 2012 on the strength of a covering letter to the OLAF report, following a four-month investigation by the EU’s anti-fraud unit, led by its chief Giovanni Kessler.

“We studied the OLAF report individually, and then we put our heads together… on the day [the investigators] met the Attorney General on the way forward, I was in Strasbourg. It was decided that Silvio Zammit would be arraigned – but I was not part of this decision,” Cassar said.

“In my opinion, with the evidence at hand, was that we would not have had a final conviction by only charging Dalli; it would be another story had he been charged together with Zammit.”

He said Rizzo wanted to arraign Zammit, the man accused of soliciting a €60 million bribe from the European smokeless tobacco lobby and Swedish Match, separately from Dalli, before putting more questions to the former commissioner – who had resigned on 16 October 2014.

Cassar said Rizzo had not concluded the investigation since he wanted to put more questions to Dalli, who by then had gone abroad to seek medical treatment.

Cassar said he was under the impression that Rizzo planned to arraign Dalli, but that he was not part of the decision. “After Zammit was arraigned, I was no longer involved in the investigation. We could do nothing to speak to Dalli pending his medical treatment, and after the change in the administration [in March 2013] Rizzo did not give me any instructions; subsequently, I met the new commissioner [Peter Paul Zammit] to give a handover from the Economic Crimes Unit, which included the Dalli dossier.”

Questioned by Chris Said, Cassar said Zammit never enquired with him about the Dalligate investigation.

Opposition wants Kessler to testify

OLAF director Giovanni Kessler said he will not attend the parliamentary committee for privileges, claiming he did not have anything to add to previous correspondence with the Speaker of the House on his views with regards to the investigation he conducted on former European Commissioner John Dalli.

The committee is investigating Joseph Muscat’s complaint against Opposition leader Simon Busuttil, who in October accused the Prime Minister of interfering in the police investigation against former EU commissioner John Dalli.

Nationalist whip David Agius and Nationalist MP Chris Said insisted that the Speaker should tell the president of the European Commission to give the authority to Kessler to testify.

But Speaker Anglu Farrugia instantly read out correspondence from his legal advisor, who said that there was no legal mechanism for the House to enforce an invitation for a foreign witness to be brought to Malta. The committee resolved to send a list of topics to Kessler.

Clarification from Michael Cassar

In a letter to the Speaker of the House on 16 October 2014, Cassar precised that it was incorrect to state that Peter Paul Zammit had not taken any interest in the Dalli investigation, but that Zammit “had a point of reference with whom to consult at his convenience” since at the time of Cassar’s handover of the workload at the Economic Crimes Unit, there were two other principal investigators.

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.