Updated | Swedish Match lobbyist admits OLAF told him to stick to incorrect version of events

Green MEPs claim Maltese lawyer Gayle Kimberley made up meetings with John Dalli 'to justify her fees'.

European Commissioner John Dalli with Green MEP Jean Bové
European Commissioner John Dalli with Green MEP Jean Bové

A stunning declaration by a Swedish Match official is set to rock the European Commission, six months after the resignation of Maltese commissioner John Dalli over allegations of a bribery attempt.

Johann Gabriellson, a Swedish Match official, admitted to Green MEP José Bové that he was instructed by OLAF, the EU's anti-fraud unit, to stick to a misleading version of events which placed Maltese lawyer Gayle Kimberley in two meetings with John Dalli.

Kimberley, appointed by Swedish Match to lobby Dalli on his revision of the Tobacco Products Directive which included a ban on snus tobacco, which Swedish Match produced, was revealed to have "made up" a second meeting she had with Dalli, to both the Maltese authorities and OLAF.

But in a declaration that Gabriellson made in a recorded, 81-minute meeting with Bové, the Swedish Match lobbyist revealed that it was OLAF that instructed him to stick to Kimberley's version of events.

Bové, who said he recorded the conversation with the permission of Gabriellson and a Swedish Match spokesperson to "be in line with World Health Organisation transparency rules", said the new allegation was a serious one that warranted a special inquiry into the European Commission's actions that led up to the resignation of John Dalli, who has since fallen ill over the past months.

"I don't know if you can see how serious this is," Bové told the press. "OLAF asked Swedish Match to keep to that version of events in the interest of the investigation, both in Malta and at European level."

Additionally, Bové said that the Commission had telephoned Swedish Match two days before Dalli's resignation on 16 October 2012, warning them of the impending press conference that would announce the results of the OLAF investigation, that had started back in May 2012.

"It is a pretty incredible situation. I cannot keep this to myself because I am an MEP and all this is far too serious. It shows a major dysfunction in the institutions...

"Kimberley did not meet Dalli... it is pretty surprising to say the least, because Kimberley never changed her story afterwards. I don't know why she made it up. She probably was trying to justify her fees."

The revelation throws a new light on the type of investigations conducted both by OLAF and the Maltese police, which have led to charges of trading in influence against Silvio Zammit, a Sliema businessman and former Nationalist local councillor, accused of soliciting a €60 million bribe from Swedish Match.

The bribe was said to have made to both Gabriellson and Gayle Kimberley at a meeting in his restaurant, where he said he could give them access to Dalli and reverse the ban on snus. It was then that Swedish Match broke off all contact with Zammit to report the matter to the European Commission in May 2012.

MEPs José Bové and Bart Staes said that a special committee in the European Parliament had to investigate the role of tobacco lobbying in the aftermath of Dalli's resignation, and that MEPs should be now granted access to both the OLAF investigative report and the supervisory committee's report on the investigation.

"Swedish Match went straight to [EC secretary-general] Catherine Day and it was Day who got OLAF onto the investigation... we ask, how did they manage to push this case so far, managing to get a Commissioner to resign within 30 minutes? We want an explanation from Day and Barroso," Bové said.

Dalli resigned on 16 October 2012 after EC president José Manuel Barroso presented him with a covering letter of OLAF's investigative report, which said OLAF had "circumstantial evidence" that he was aware of a bribery attempt to reverse the snus ban. Dalli was not given access to the report, which has so far only been handed to the Maltese Attorney General and the police.

After his resignation, MaltaToday had revealed back in October 2012 that Gabriellson and Kimberley had respectively been employed at the European Commission and the European Council: when Kimberley returned to Malta as a lawyer for the gaming authority (LGA), Gabriellson reportedly asked her to lobby Dalli. Through the offices of her co-worker Iosif Galea at the LGA, Kimberley met Silvio Zammit, a long-time Nationalist Party activist who had canvassed for Dalli.

Earlier this week, the Maltese member of OLAF's supervisory committee, Rita Schembri, tendered her resignation from the committee; as permanent secretary and head of the Prime Minister's internal audit and investigations department, she also led the OLAF liaison unit Afcos (anti-fraud coordination) which contributed to the OLAF investigation on Dalli. Schembri herself is embroiled in an ethics inquiry by the Auditor General after MaltaToday revealed that the permanent secretary was conducting private business from her government offices. She has since suspended herself from the post of IAID chief.

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This is very serious indeed ! The allegations are too big just to let them slip away and many answers are expected from both investigations. Resignations should follow by court action for framing Mr Dalli. I have always believed in Mr Dalli even though I do not support his political sympathy. I am sure that he will rise again and those involved be taken to court. The story never ends and we expect much more about the PN Dep Leadership affair and the whole set up ! By the way - Mr Barroso has still not resigned !!
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This is becoming a sordid affair indeed..... If this story is true, then I think the Maltese Government should intervene. Although John Dalli was an ex-GonziPN Minister, the attack on him was an attack on all the Maltese. Mr. Dalli was a Commissioner who made Malta proud – and here I am referring to all Maltese, irrespective of their political leanings (well maybe not the hard core pro-GonziPN...). Barroso and his gang of cowboys have gone out of their way to humiliate Dalli and Malta, and they should not be allowed to get away with it.
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In my opinion Barroso should risign
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Sequence of events in a Le Carre' novel: (1) EC Commissioner is framed and made to resign by EC president in a summary decision; (2) Position of Commissioner is vacant and is filled by the same country's party Deputy Kap; (3) Deputy Kap's position is vacant so that a supposed prodigy may fill it in time for election campaign. Prodigy proves to be a disaster, and the election result a greater disaster. After this failure, the air slowly starts to clear and the real culprits start to emerge from their lairs.
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I have stated before and I am more justified now to say that the frameup of John Dalli was co-ordinated at the top levels of the EU Commission in collusion with the GONZIPN clique which has been booted out of this Country's administration. Such admissions show the extent of corruption not only in GONZIPN affilitiation of the EPP Parties but at the heart of the EPP stronghold - the EU Commission. We have now started to cleaned Malta and our Movement should also start to clean up Europe. Joseph Muscat promised that Malta will be at the forefront of Europe. I BELIEVE HIM.
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And what does Mr Baroso has to say now?
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Minkejja li ma kontx naqbel politikament ma John Dalli dejjem kont konvint li John Dalli mhux xi persuna li ser jidħol f'basla bħall din. Wara dak li għadda minnu fil-passat,fejn ħareġ ċar daqs il-kristall li kien iffrejmjat biex jiġi mkisser politikament,frame-up li ma rnexxiex,lill John Dalli kien għad hemm min ried jara kif jeħles minnu b'mod jew ieħor.Ma nistax neskludi li anke f'dan il-kas,jista jkun hemm xi id moħbija ta' xi ħadd li għadu jemmen li jista ikissru moralment u politikament. Aktar ma joħorġu dettalji fuq dan il-kas,aktar nikkonvinċi ruħi min dak li qed naħseb.Iz-zmien għad jagħti parir.
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Taking in consideration what is being reported above, shouldn't, the local police, who were so quick to call Mr Dalli for investigation, now investigate those who accused him, who gave witness against him, to try and find out who is really behind all this?
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Could this be another frame up of John Dalli? If I connect the points in the picture I cannot help but wonder whether there was the hand of the PN behind all this. Maybe it was payback time for speaking frankly.
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Liars, cheats, scoundrels, conmen, thieves & traitors. Those adjectives apply fully to all those in the EU's Commission, and especially those under the influence of that well connected, local, behind the scenes, power broker that wanted vengeance on John Dalli.
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Aktar ma nisma aktar jien konvint li lil John Dalli dahhlu fli xkora ta qerq u hazen ghal skopijiet politici.Min jaf min hemm wara dan kollu.
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RUMORS ARE CARRIED BY HATERS, SPREAD BY FOOLS, AND ACCEPTED BY IDIOTS.Why all this on John Dalli?
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....and the plot thickens!
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Maureen Attard
X'tahdwid...
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With friends like Silvio Zammit, Mr Dalli certainly does not need any enemies. I sincerely hope that Mr Dalli's health allows him to be vindicated.