Dalligate | Why did OLAF suggest that Gayle Kimberley be prosecuted?

MaltaToday retraces its steps in the testimony of the Malta police on the Dalli investigation, and how this tallies with suggestions that OLAF recommended the prosecution of a Maltese lobbyist.

John Dalli
John Dalli

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.

MaltaToday has confirmed allegations by lawyer Edward Gatt, the defence counsel for Silvio Zammit, 48 of Sliema - accused of bribery, trading in influence and money laundering - that Gayle Kimberley, 37 of Sliema, was recommended that she be prosecuted, after the EU anti-fraud unit said that John Dalli could have been aware of the €60 million bribe offer to Swedish Match, allegedly to reverse an EU ban on the retail of snus tobacco.

Dalli resigned on 16 October 2012 on the strength of a covering letter to the OLAF report, which has not been released to the public, following a four-month investigation by the EU's anti-fraud unit, led by its chief Giovanni Kessler.

This newspaper has not yet established on what basis OLAF would have suggested that Kimberley, formerly a lawyer at the European Council's legal services in Brussels, be prosecuted.

But OLAF investigators knew that she had lied about a meeting she claimed to have had with Dalli on 10 February at his St Julian's office, where she alleged that Silvio Zammit brought up the issue of money to reverse the ban on snus.

This fact alone was confirmed by Johan Gabrielsson, the public affairs director of Swedish Match, who told Green MEP José Bové last week that it was OLAF who told him that Kimberley had lied about the 'second meeting' with Dalli.

Specifically, the fictitious meeting was the one in which Dalli was said to have moved out of the room in which Kimberley met him with Zammit by his side; an account of which she gave to Gabrielsson himself in Malta on 13 February 2012, when she warned him that Zammit would ask him for cash to gain access to Dalli.

"The OLAF report actually recommends that Kimberley be prosecuted," Zammit's defence counsel Edward Gatt told MaltaToday last week. "But the Maltese police declared they were not intending to, unless they find new evidence."

Bizarre snus triangle

Revisiting the testimony given by police inspector Angelo Gafà of the investigations he conducted, a lot has yet to be said of the bizarre triangle that connects so many personages in the Dalligate affair, or perhaps conspiracy.

The owner of an al fresco pizzeria in Sliema, Silvio Zammit's name is synonymous with Sliema locals. His father's kiosk Peppi's is a byword for the fabled date cakes he sold. In his political role, the lifelong Nationalist activist was a canvasser for Nationalist ministers like Michael Refalo and Michael Frendo, before he was asked by the PN to canvass for John Dalli in 2008. In time, he became the short-lived deputy mayor of his hometown.

Zammit was introduced to the world of snus, the Swedish tobacco pouches, when he accompanied Thomas Hammargren to meet John Dalli at the Kempinski Hotel in Gozo, to present him with some documentation.

Hammargren had been Swedish Match's vice-president for global corporate affairs until 2007, but at the time of the 2010 meeting with Dalli he had been brought to Malta by British American Tobacco - which has a Maltese office together with Central Cigarettes ¬- where he was head of harm reduction and smokeless tobacco like snus. Today he works for Nicoventures, producers of nicotine replacement products.

From then onwards, the snus network widened: first with a 2010 visit to Stockholm, where Zammit was met for lunch by Inge Delfosse, the secretary-general of the European Smokeless Tobacco Council (ESTOC) and Swedish Match's spokesperson Rupini Bergstrom. At lunch in Stockholm, just an hour away from Norkopping where he flew in on Ryanair flight, the three talked about snus: its illegality in the rest of the EU, and of course, about Zammit's connection with Dalli, which Hammargren must have surely mentioned to Delfosse: he was himself a chairman of ESTOC in 2008.

After this encounter, we know that Zammit started with his online purchases of snus, before Swedish Match cut short its online sales, which he sold to the community of Scandinavians employed in the e-gaming businesses headquartered in Sliema, as well as to some other Maltese purveyors.

In the meantime the destinies of Zammit the businessman, and Gayle Kimberley, a middle-class, law graduate working in the European institutions, are about to collide.

Johann Gabrielsson, who had worked at the European Commission's directorate-general for enlargement, makes an "innocent" phone-call to Kimberley, enquiring about gaining access to John Dalli. She had been employed at the European Council's legal services. Even husband Matthew Kimberley, an LSE political sciences graduate, spent some time at the European Commission before founding BK2 recruitment consultants. The two couples were friends.

Between 2011 and 2012, Dalli was spearheading a review of the Tobacco Products Directive, where he intended to keep up a ban on the sale of snus outside Sweden, the only EU Member State to have a derogation from the ban.

Kimberley had taken up a legal post at the Lotteries and Gaming Authority in 2010, where she befriended Iosif Galea, a compliance officer at the LGA. As it turns out, Galea was a business associate of Silvio Zammit, specifically involved in the organisation of circus and fairground events on the island.

This very typical, small-island connection of sorts would lead to Swedish Match's call to Kimberley, to liaise with the man who knew John Dalli.

It was likely that Zammit was already aware of who Gayle Kimberley was. Iosif Galea, his friend, would have informed him of the love affair he was having with her: he himself admitted as such to the police. It was for that reason that he was in Portugal in June 2012 with Kimberley, where she was on official LGA business, when Giovanni Kessler presented himself to the young lawyer at her hotel, for a seven-hour interrogation.

Undoubtedly, Galea would have told Zammit of what had happened. Galea and Kimberley even shared email addresses and a Facebook password, which Galea later used to access a document listing details of a meeting with John Dalli that Kimberley had sent to OLAF, and which he told Zammit about.

Two bribes, one company

Everything fell into place between January and March 2012.

First at the behest of Swedish Match, Kimberly gave Dalli some bedtime reading on snus on 6 January 2012. Then came Zammit's meeting with Gabrielsson and Kimberley at his Sliema pizzeria on 13 February, where he asked for €60 million to procure a reversal on the ban on snus.

At news of Zammit's indecent proposal, Gabrielsson informed his superior Thomas Hildingsson - Swedish Match vice-president for public affairs but also the chairperson of ESTOC - who ordered him to stop all communication with Zammit.

Similar instructions were given to Kimberley on 21 February, who told the Maltese courts that she relayed the message to Zammit.

But contact between the two did not stop: according to police inspector Gafà's testimony, the cybercrime unit found deleted emails from Kimberley to Zammit, and an email to ESTOC secretary-general Inge Delfosse that had been drafted by Kimberley. All that was found in Silvio Zammit's computer was an email from Kimberley, dated 5 March 2012, on Inge Delfosse.

And throughout March, Zammit turned his attention to ESTOC secretary-general Inge Delfosse, deciding to make a similar multi-million offer on 15 March. But why, after he was informed by Zammit that Swedish Match had turned down his ridiculous request? Why would he try his luck with the people from ESTOC, which was Swedish Match's lobbying arm?

Delfosse's shock at Zammit's request must have not been that great. Expecting that Zammit would repeat his multi-million offer, she recorded a conversation with him on her iPhone. She probably had already been alerted to what had happened in Malta by Gabrielsson's boss - ESTOC chairman Thomas Hildingsson,

The obvious question was whether Zammit was smart enough to realise that his indecent offer could not be made to the same people who had already turned him down?

And if the 10 February meeting with Dalli did not happen, as inspector Gafà himself told the Maltese courts, why has this not had any consequences on Kimberley? If she did "lie" to OLAF and the Maltese police, why do the police and the Attorney General believe that they should not prosecute her, as suggested by OLAF in the first place?

A third, important question arises on the similarity of claims that Kimberley made to Swedish Match and those Zammit made to ESTOC. On her 6 January meeting with Dalli, Kimberley told Gabrielsson that the commissioner had "seen Swedish Match's point" and was prepared to take the risk to change the EU's ban on snus.

Zammit then repeated the same claims to Inge Delfosse in emails he sent to her in March - arguably having known of what Kimberley had told Swedish Match a few weeks later.

Fourthly, it is known that Gayle Kimberley's husband Matthew entered the fray shortly after his wife was interrogated by Kessler. Going by Gafà's deposition, he knew Zammit well enough to visit at his lotto booth in Sliema (another of Zammit's business interests), to learn what he had told the police during the OLAF investigations in the summer of 2012. If Kimberley had been told by Swedish Match not to make any contact with Zammit back in February, why did her husband meet him to learn about what he had told investigators?

The fact alone that Kimberley made up the 10 February meeting to Gabrielsson simply to justify her €5,000 fee, has blown this case wide open again. So far it was believed that OLAF's "unambiguous circumstantial evidence" hinged on this meeting, but as it turns out the anti-fraud agency knew that this meeting did not happen.

In the public melee that ensued after Dalli's resignation, nothing was said to quash the belief that the commissioner was present for the meeting in which Zammit first mooted the possibility of a cash reward. Indeed, Johan Gabrielsson claimed that both OLAF and the Maltese police force, suggested that he does not change this perception when addressing the European Parliament earlier this year: to simply advance the story "as he heard it from Kimberley", and not as OLAF had discovered.

There is another story to be told. Why were OLAF moved to suggest that Gayle Kimberley should be prosecuted, as well as Silvio Zammit? Something yet to be established in the Maltese courts.

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