More e-mails show Zammit chased the snus lobbyists
The Wall Street Journal has published details from an e-mail exchange showing Silvio Zammit, the middleman at the centre of Dalligate, pursued the European Smokeless Tobacco Council (Estoc) and offered them his “lobbying” services.
Details from this correspond-ence between Mr Zammit and the smokeless tobacco lobbyists support what tobacco producer Swedish Match told The Times.
It is another twist in the affair, which last week saw European Commissioner John Dalli step down after an investigation by the EU anti-fraud agency OLAF linked him to a bribe request by his former canvasser and former Sliema deputy mayor Mr Zammit.
Mr Zammit allegedly asked snus manufacturer Swedish Match for €60 million in return for influence on legislation in Mr Dalli’s port-folio. OLAF claimed it had circumstantial evidence showing Mr Dalli knew about this request.
Both men deny the claims.
The e-mail exchange between Mr Zammit and the Estoc secret-ary general, Inge Delfosse, started on March 8, according to The Wall Street Journal, following an initial verbal contact.
“Following a first exploratory meeting with the relevant Maltese liaisons, I can propose the following package of services which we can discuss further with you,” Mr Zammit is reported saying in the first e-mail.
The services that were offered included “preparation and drawing up of presentation to put forward to relevant high-level Commission representatives”, “lobbying efforts and setting up of high-level meetings”, and “planning next steps to include deeper consolidation of industry position and furthering of industry interests, with top-level introductions and action strategy”.
The story seems to provide a new context to an e-mail which had been made public by Malta Today in which, among other things, Ms Delfosse asks Mr Zammit how much he would charge to set up a meeting with Mr Dalli.
Mr Dalli has repeatedly used the e-mail as evidence that the snus lobby had pursued Mr Zammit and offered money, strongly suggesting entrapment.
The details in The Wall Street Journal also appear to support comments by a Swedish Match spokeswoman who told The Times this week that Mr Zammit approached Estoc even after they had rejected his alleged request for €60 million.
The company had rejected his offer on February 21 and reported the matter to the Swedish government on the 24th. However, the complaint to the European Commission was made only in May.
“At first we weren’t sure if this was a credible offer. It looked credible but we were not certain and, in any case, we felt we had done our duty by reporting the matter to our government,” she said.
When the company found out Mr Zammit had contacted Estoc, the alarm bells started ringing, the spokeswoman said.
Attempts to contact Mr Zammit yesterday were unsuccessful.