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Tag: Swedish Match

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Dalligate update: Kimberley denies asking for €60 million

| May 9, 2013

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.

Swedish Match fires against allegations it lied, altered ‘Dalligate’ story

| April 9, 2013

Swedish Match says that it has not lied nor altered its story during meetings about the resignation of the former EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs.

John Dalli resigned in October, shortly before the commission unveiled its proposed revisions to the Tobacco Products Directive.

According to a story in Malta Today, the transparency watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) has submmitted a complaint to the transparency register secretariat against Swedish Match for allegedly violating the EU’s code of conduct for lobbyists. The complaint by CEO alleges also that Swedish Match lied to MEPs about ‘Dalligate’.

According to the story, Swedish Match’s public affairs director Johan Gabrielsson admitted to Green MEP José Bove that his company was asked to tell MEPs a misleading version of events of an attempt to solicit a bribe from it, ostensibly to reverse an EU ban on the sale of snus, which Swedish Match produces.

Asked about these allegations, Johan Wredberg, a spokesperson with Swedish Match’s public affairs department, stated in an email to TR that, in line with its commitment to cooperate with all the stakeholders seeking the truth in this matter, the company had welcomed and accepted several requests for meetings. “During those meetings we have never lied, nor altered our story,” Wredberg said. “We can only relate to our first-hand experience, which we have communicated in a transparent and consistent manner.”

Wredberg said that a Maltese police investigation was currently in progress and that, despite a sincere effort from its side to be cooperative, any and all information the company had shared with certain stakeholders had been twisted and used in a media campaign whose purpose was, to it, unclear.

Wredberg said Swedish Match did not see the benefits of such an approach, but rather saw it as one that could potentially obstruct the judicial process.

Swedish Match trusted that the truth regarding all of these events would be clarified once the Maltese police investigation was completed, Wredberg added.

EU Tobacco Products Directive review to proceed

| October 18, 2012

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.

 

EU commissioner resigns following Swedish Match complaint

| October 16, 2012

John Dalli has today announced his resignation as a member of the EU Commission, with immediate effect, according to an EU Commission press statement.

Dalli informed the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, of his decision following an investigation by OLAF, the EU’s antifraud office, into a complaint made in May by Swedish Match.

Swedish Match alleged that a Maltese entrepreneur had used his contacts with Dalli to try to gain financial advantages from the company in return for seeking to influence a possible future legislative proposal on tobacco products, in particular on the EU export ban on snus. As soon as the Commission received the complaint it immediately requested OLAF to investigate.

The OLAF report did not find any conclusive evidence of the direct participation of Dalli but did consider that he was aware of these events. No transaction was concluded between the company and the entrepreneur and no payment was made.

The OLAF report showed the European Commission’s decisionmaking process and the position of the services concerned has unaffected by the matters under investigation.

The final OLAF report and its recommendations are being sent by OLAF to the Attorney General of Malta.

After the president informed Dalli about the report received from OLAF, Dalli decided to resign in order to be able to defend his reputation and that of the Commission. Dalli categorically rejects these findings.

Vice President Maros Sefcovic will take over the portfolio of Dalli on an interim basis until a new Commissioner of Maltese nationality is appointed in accordance with article 246 (2) of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union.