The villa where John Dalli stayed when he visited the Bahamas was leased through a Maltese gold-trading company whose shareholder runs charitable projects in Africa through business ventures.
The information appears to support the explanation given by Mr Dalli that he had travelled to the Bahamas tax haven in July 2012 to discuss a philanthropic project helping African people.
But the Bahamas landlord who rented out the villa in question said the discussions Mr Dalli was involved in concerned business ventures and not charity projects.
“He was interested in these business proposals,” Barry Connor said of the former European health commissioner.
Repeated attempts to contact Mr Dalli for a reaction yesterday were unsuccessful.
The Seaview Beach villa on Paradise Island was rented by Mr Dalli’s daughter, Claire Gauci Borda, on behalf of a locally registered company, Tyre Limited, one of whose directors is British citizen Martin Zuch, founder and trustee of Give Hope International.
The organisation does charitable work in Africa through business ventures, which seems to match with the version of events described by Mr Dalli when he defended himself from a report on the International Herald Tribune that he had visited the Bahamas by saying that he was voluntarily helping to set up a fund that would help finance a philanthropic project for African people.
Tyre Limited is not directly involved in charity work, except for Mr Zuch’s connection.
It was set up to broker “aircraft, heavy machinery and other resources” in 2010 but a year later it started trading in gold and copper.
Contacted in Nassau in the Bahamas, Mr Connor stood by the version he gave the Herald and told Times of Malta that Mr Dalli had once told him he intended setting up a trust in the name of his daughters with money from Dubai.
“I can only say what he told me, that they wanted to move this money to the Bahamas and, initially, I was told it was coming from a bank in Dubai. Then I was told it was coming from Chase Manhattan Bank in New York,” he said, referring to the period of August and September 2012.
On this point of money transfer, Mr Dalli had acknowledged talk of a fund being set up for the purposes of the charity venture but said the money would come from private sources.
He also said Mr Connor had offered a trust he owned to serve as a vehicle for the operation, but Mr Connor denied this.
“No, there was no discussion on any project and the discussion on the trust was a way in which he could have control of the trust... I don’t know of any charitable venture. Discussions were had with people who wanted investments in business ventures... he was interested in these business proposals.
“The only reference to Africa I know of was that they were going to promote these products (energy-efficient engines) in Africa.”
Most of the discussions were in September just before Mr Dalli left the archipelago, Mr Connor claimed, adding that the former commissioner said he would be sending his two daughters to be “protectors” in a fund in the Bahamas.
“He asked me to speak to a trustee and I reported back to him.”
Mr Connor described the setting at the villa as very informal, saying that Mr Dalli and some associates would meet a string of mostly American businessmen and Christian evangelicals at the villa and discuss an array of different proposals.
“I was introduced to an inventor from the US, for instance, who claimed he had a very fuel-efficient (vehicle) engine, which they could manufacture on a large scale and sell in Africa... there was also a lot of talk about brokering raw African gold and selling it in Europe,” Mr Connor said.
Apart from the fact that Tyre Limited trades, among other things, in gold and copper, Mr Zuch is director of Jubilee Oil and Gas, a company with a declared interest in Nigerian and Zambian mining companies.
When contacted in the UK yesterday, Mr Zuch pointed out that he got involved with the company some months after Mr Dalli made the trip to the Bahamas and, therefore, would not comment on the events prior to that.
He said his charity would benefit from the charitable “initiative” that Mr Dalli spoke about, adding: “Give Hope International has no formal relationship with this initiative but if the private financing is successful GHI may have some of their programmes financed as a consequence.”
He said Tyre Limited had no formal connection with the initiative but also aimed to help poor children and communities in Africa through their trading activities.
Mr Zuch underlined that Mr Dalli’s involvement was exclusively related to the charitable aspect of the initiative, adding that he found working with him on such a noble project to be enlightening and stimulating.
“His experience in financial, political and health has been invaluable and supplied on a voluntary basis,” he said.
Listen to the audio file below.
OLAF and Malta police told last year about Dalli stay in Bahamas
Is Barry Connor making up his story?