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[READ] Email shows smokeless tobacco lobby asked Zammit to set up meeting with Dalli
Email shows contact with former PN councillor Silvio Zammit as recently as March 2012.
17 October 2012, 12:00am
An email seen by MaltaToday and being published for the first time has confirmed that the European Smokeless Tobacco Council (ESTOC) was in contact with Sliema businessman Silvio Zammit, in a bid to set up an informal meeting with former European Commissioner John Dalli.
In the email, ESTOC secretary-general Inge Delfosse (pictured) addresses Silvio Zammit by his first name, and tells him:
"Hi Silvio, There are some bad rumours flying around Brussels. Could you let me know whether it would be possible to have an informal meeting with Dalli in Brussels and how much you would charge for that? Let's talk! Cheers, Inge."
The email request is dated March 2012, but MaltaToday is as yet unaware whether this is the basis of the OLAF investigation that prompted Dalli's resignation from European Commissioner on Tuesday.
ESTOC's chairman is Patrik Hildingsson, the public communications director of Swedish Match who yesterday spoke to MaltaToday and said that Zammit had made the Swedish snuff producer "an indecent proposal which we thought was real and credible enough" - leading Swedish Match to report the incident to the European Commission some time in May 2012, according to OLAF.
Hildingsson also said Swedish Match had no historical relationship with Zammit, who is understood to have made an advance to the company.
But as recently as March 2012, ESTOC's secretary-general Inge Delfosse was still in contact with Zammit asking him how much he would charge to set up "an informal meeting" with Dalli - ostensibly in the run-up to his review of the Tobacco Products Directive which was to have an effect on the sale of Swedish snus.
According to the OLAF investigation, Zammit - a known Nationalist activist who yesterday tendered his resignation as deputy mayor of Sliema - would have suggested to Swedish Match that he could have used his contacts with Dalli to influence his upcoming review of the Tobacco Products Directive. The email between ESTOC and Zammit suggests that the lobby entertained his requests in 2012, while Swedish Match - which is part of the ESTOC lobby - reported Zammit to the European Commission.
ESTOC is a lobby that seeks to secure permission to sell smokeless tobacco products in Europe and the world, but snus is banned from sale in Europe except in Sweden, which obtained an exemption upon accession to the EU in 1995.
MORE: Health NGOs decry 'big tobacco' attempt at derailing Dalli anti-smoking campaign [READ HERE]
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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