Police Commissioner in Brussels visit over John Dalli investigation
The investigation into the John Dalli case returned to Brussels last week where Maltese police went over key elements of the probe with investigators at the EU anti-fraud agency, OLAF, sources have told The Sunday Times.
Police Commissioner John Rizzo was accompanied by the head of the Economic Crimes Unit Michael Cassar and Inspector Angelo Gafa during a brief visit to Brussels, where they discussed the OLAF probe with the agency’s investigators.
Sources said interrogations remain ongoing almost two weeks after Mr Dalli himself was called in at police headquarters in Floriana and questioned extensively during a 34-hour stay.
Mr Dalli was forced to resign as European Health Commissioner in October when an OLAF investigation concluded there was “unambiguous circumstantial evidence” showing he knew that his former canvasser Silvio Zammit requested a large sum money from a Swedish tobacco company to lift an EU ban on snus – a smokeless form of tobacco which can only be sold in Sweden.
The agency’s director general, Giovanni Kessler, had said there was no conclusive evidence showing Mr Dalli was directly involved but the former Commissioner was forced to resign by European Commission President Manuel Barroso because his position was deemed untenable in light of the findings.
The sources said local police had largely concluded the main evidence gathering stage after Mr Dalli was interviewed but officials are going over the wider context of the investigation.
On Friday a lawyer contracted by the Lotteries and Gaming Authority who worked closely with the Maltese Swedish Match representative, Gayle Kimberley, was interrogated at length.
Dr Kimberley, who was previously head of EU and international affairs at the authority, also represented the Swedish tobacco firm at the meetings in January and February of this year in which it is alleged that the first requests for money were made.
According to Swedish Match, Dr Kimberley reported back on the offer somewhat bewildered by the request. However, the company has failed to explain why its representative chose to go through Mr Zammit to get to Mr Dalli.
The OLAF dossier, which sources say includes transcripts of recorded phone calls, logs of text messages, phone calls and e-mails, mainly probed Mr Zammit’s involvement.
However, it also looked into the possibility that Dr Kimberley may have played a duplicitous role, sources have told The Sunday Times.
Similarly, the Maltese police’s investigation mainly targets Mr Zammit, Mr Dalli and Dr Kimberley.
Both Mr Dalli and Mr Zammit have strenuously denied the allegations. Dr Kimberley has not been available for comment.