Defence lawyers of Sliema restaurateur Silvio Zammit yesterday pressed the police’s witness Gayle Kimberley on whether she was the one who came up with the €60 million figure at the heart of the Dalligate scandal.
Kimberley denied it categorically, but lawyer Edward Gatt insisted on the point, reminding the young lawyer that she was testifying under oath, according to a story in The Malta Times.
He then went back to a note that Kimberley had prepared for Zammit with a series of questions for the former European Commissioner John Dalli and asked why she had written down that Swedish Match made a turnover of €500 million, half of which was profit.
She said that the figure was suggested by Swedish Match, adding that the intention was to relay the message to Dalli that the company was actually a modest trader in the tobacco industry.
However, at this point, Dr Gatt and his colleague Kris Busietta pressed further saying that she had mentioned that figure because she was later going to ask for €50 million to lift the ban through her contacts with Dalli. She later suggested changing it to €60 million “so it would not be a round figure”, according to the lawyer.
Kimberley also rejected this but the lawyer again reminded her that she was testifying under oath, adding that she had plans to use the money to set up a lobbying office in Brussels and buy property in Sliema with her former lover Iosif Galea. Kimberley also denied this.
Shortly after this, Gatt stopped the cross-examination, saying he would continue at a later date because he needed time to review a lot of material, which the defence was analyzing, suggesting that they had material which was not available to the police or OLAF. Earlier, in fact, Gatt pointed out that Kimberley sent most of her emails through her phone. Nonetheless, when asked she said that neither OLAF nor the police had seized her phone, despite seizing her work and home computers.
A planned review of the European Union Tobacco Products Directive will proceed once a replacement has been found for Health Commissioner John Dalli, said EU spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen on Oct. 17. Dalli resigned following an investigation of a complaint by Swedish Match made in May.
The EU anti-fraud office, OLAF, found evidence that Dalli knew a “person close to him” was requesting a “substantial” sum of money from Swedish Match in return for seeking to influence the future legislative proposal removing or softening the existing ban on snus in the EU.
Dalli denies the claims and says he resigned to give himself “a free hand in opposing the allegations.” He also plans legal action to clear his name.
Malta Today identified the person who approached Swedish Match as Silvio Zammit, a well-known Maltese entrepreneur and councilor for the city of Sliema. Zammit resigned from the council five hours after the announcement of Dalli’s resignation.
Swedish Match said it takes the incident very seriously and expects the European Commission will “ensure a transparent and legally fair process for the proposal of a new Tobacco Products Directive, which is expected during the autumn.”
The company said it expects the available scientific evidence on the significantly lower health risks of snus compared with cigarettes to be considered in the review process.
Commenting on the investigation, a spokesman for the Union of Tobacco Growers in Europe called on the commission to abandon the proposals developed by Dalli and begin again with a fair and transparent process that results in tobacco regulations that will both protect a public health and tobacco farmers’ jobs.