‘Kimberley did not tell Dalli she was in Swedish Match’s employ’

Mediatoday managing editor says OLAF ignored Gayle Kimberley’s own admission to Swedish Match that she did not let on who her employers were, in a meeting with John Dalli.

Lawyer Gayle Kimberley never told John Dalli she was representing Swedish Match, when the two met in January 2012.
Lawyer Gayle Kimberley never told John Dalli she was representing Swedish Match, when the two met in January 2012.

Former European Commissioner John Dalli was not aware that lawyer Gayle Kimberley was representing Swedish Match, when the two met in January 2012.

Mediatoday's managing editor Saviour Balzan said on breakfast show TVAM that Kimberley, appointed by Swedish Match to lobby Dalli on the reversal of a ban on snus tobacco, may have been economical on her intentions to curry favour on tobacco laws.

"It is clear that the OLAF report was intended to prove at all costs that someone was guilty," Balzan said of the investigation carried out by the EU's anti-fraud agency on the allegation that Silvio Zammit has asked for a €60 million bribe from Swedish Match, to reverse the ban on snus.

The allegation led to Dalli's forced resignation on 16 October, although the former commissioner was not shown the OLAF report presented to Commission president José Manuel Barroso.

OLAF director Giovanni Kessler tomorrow faces the Budgetary Control Committee's members in the European Parliament, over the way he handled the investigation.

According to her own email to her employers of 6 January, Kimberley claimed she had told Dalli that she was "in no way representing Swedish Match, just giving the objective position of suns producers and users" - she told Swedish Match's public affair director Johan Gabrielsson.

Kimberley was paid €5,000 by Swedish Match to secure access to John Dalli, which she did through his friendship with Silvio Zammit, a restaurateur who had canvassed for Dalli during the 2008 elections.

In her email, published in an annex of documents to the OLAF report on the investigation on a €60 million bribe that Zammit was alleged to have solicited from Gabrielsson, Kimberley told her employer that her meeting with Dalli had been "confidential" and that she never let on as to whom she was representing.

The meeting was characterised by a 20-minute presentation in which Kimberley, a lawyer by profession, pushed forward the case to lift a ban on snus, the tobacco produced by Swedish Match and that is only retailed in Sweden on derogation from an EU retail ban.

In her same email, she told Gabrielsson that Dalli "would not say he would reverse the situation or do a U-turn" on the EU ban, which was the subject of discussion during the impact assessment on a revised Tobacco Products Directive.

Kimberley also told Gabrielsson that Dalli had informed her that the Commission had refrained from talking to the tobacco industry in general, because of "the perception that they are unethical and aggressive".

Another bumping point with Dalli was his skepticism in "independent" medical professionals which Kimberely suggested he should meet.

"I however got the feeling he is somewhat skeptical about most scientists' independence in this sector," Kimberley wrote.

In her email, Kimberley reiterates that at no point did Dalli give her any assurances he wanted to lift the ban. "But his openness to listen and willingness to take any decision he deems necessary based on facts is very welcome," she reassured them.

'No Maltese MP did anything to defend Dalli'

On TVAM, Balzan took to task MEPs and MPs who did not raise a voice of protest over Dalli's forced resignation from the European Commission.

Dalli's resignation and the subsequent appointment of deputy prime minister and PN deputy leader Tonio Borg to European commissioner, led to a deputy leadership battle that secured MEP Simon Busuttil's post in the party. Today Busuttil is Opposition leader.

He said that during the course of 2011, Simon Busuttil was sounding Dalli out to see whether he was still interested in local politics, especially when it was being rumoured that he was interested in running again against Lawrence Gonzi for the PN leadership post.

Balzan also said that Gonzi had asked Dalli to intervene with Franco Debono in 2011, in a bid to control Debono who at the time was highly critical of Gonzi.

He said that OLAF had omitted to include all Silvio Zammit's telephone calls during critical days in which it was alleged that circumstantial evidence of Dalli's and Zammit's telephone conversation would have incriminated Dalli.

"OLAF never endeavoured to publish the entirety of the calls Zammit made not just to Dalli and Kimberley, but also to former PN ministers George Pullicino and Michael Refalo and PN secretary-general Paul Borg Olivier, amongst others."

Balzan also made reference to the lack of intervention by Maltese MEPs and MPs, especially after the two Green MEPS, José Bové and Bart Staes, questioned the way Commission president José Manuel Barroso asked Dalli to resign. "No Maltese MEP, or MPs, came out in Dalli's defence," Balzan said. 

More in Dalligate
This confirms that this was a trap all along because the PN wanted to prevent Dalli from contesting for PN leadership, the Commission wanted him out of the way because he was in the way of the kickbacks from the tobacco industry, and the tobacco industry wanted him out of the way because they stood to lose billions because of his tobacco directive.
Olga Rud
No Maltese MEP or MPs came out to defend a Maltese national. Maybe later on, when Dalli proves again that he was innocent then all of them will come out to congratulate him.

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