John Dalli accuses Rizzo of giving Caruana Galizia inquiry false information

John Dalli says he arrived in Malta a week before John Rizzo’s resignation, not the day after as alleged by the former police chief

John Dalli
John Dalli

The former EU Commissioner and Nationalist minister John Dalli has accused former Commissioner of Police John Rizzo of perjuring himself by giving the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry false information.

Rizzo claimed that John Dalli, whom he had not yet formally charged in court for his alleged role in a bribery attempt that had been uncovered by the EU’s anti-fraud agency OLAF, returned from Malta after an extended stay in Belgium one day after Rizzo’s resignation in March 2013 when Labour was elected to power.

Dalli had resigned from the Commission in October 2012 after OLAF claimed there was circumstantial evidence that he was aware of an alleged €60 million bribe solicited by a canvasser, Silvio Zammit, from a Swedish firm seeking to overturn a retail ban on chewing tobacco, which legislation fell under Dalli’s purview.

In a statement Dalli said that he returned to Malta from Brussels, where at the time he claimed he was medically unfit to travel to Malta, on Saturday 6 April, a full week before Rizzo’s resignation.

“My lawyer had informed police beforehand on when I was to arrive,” Dalli said.

At the time, only Zammit had been charged with bribery. An election had been called in January 2013 shortly after the Nationalist government lost a vote on a budgetary bill, and Rizzo had claimed Dalli’s arraignment had been placed on the back-burner during the three-month campaign.

Dalli also took issue with Rizzo’s statement that the Maltese police had investigated all the OLAF allegations from scratch. “In his testimony in Court on the 12 December 2012, Inspector Gafà said ‘The Maltese police reopened the OLAF investigation, widening the original OLAF report's conclusions by interrogating more persons. The investigation was a ‘double check’ on the OLAF report’.”

Dalli claimed this statement contradicts Rizzo because the former police chief said they ‘did not trust’ OLAF’s findings.

“His trust of OLAF can be gauged  by the fact that he headed a police delegation to Brussels where, according to a recorded conversation between Swedish Match employees and an MEP, the Malta Police (who were referred to by the Swedish Match Employees as the three bad cops), colluded with OLAF and the tobacco lobby to the point that they advised a Swedish Match employee to keep repeating stories that all of them knew were false.”

Dalli was referring to statements by Swedish Match officials that OLAF had told them to stick to a misleading version of events on the Dalligate affair.

A recording of the conversation between Green MEP José Bové and two officials of Swedish Match, has public affairs director Johann Gabrielsson saying that Maltese lobbyist Gayle Kimberley had lied about a second meeting she had had with John Dalli in 2012. Gabrielsson said that the EU's anti-fraud unit and the Maltese police ‘suggested’ him that he stick to a public version of events that had already been belied in investigations they carried out, into a €60 million bribe requested by a Maltese businessman allegedly to influence EU tobacco laws. “We had been told by OLAF that an investigation was going on in Malta, ‘so keep to your version. Say what you have told us, what your version is, because there is a Maltese criminal investigation that should not be disturbed’. And this was what the Maltese police said as well,” Gabrielsson said.

The Maltese police were then planning 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.

The police had also 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.