A Swedish newspaper has, for the first time ever, published a recording which shows how the canvasser of former EU health commissioner John Dalli had solicited €10 million from the European Smokeless Tobacco Council to set up a meeting with Dalli.
In the phonecall, Zammit can be heard telling the council’s secretary-general Inge Delfosse that the EU wide ban on snus could be reversed if she paid him an initial €10 million to set up a high-level meeting with John Dalli.
According to testimony in a report by the EU’s anti-corruption office OLAF, Delfosse was also asked to pay a further €50 million after the law was changed.
The OLAF investigation prompted then European Commission president Jose Manuel Barrosso to force Dalli to resign as health commissioner back in October 2012.
Zammit has since been charged in the Maltese courts with bribery and trading in influence, while John Dalli has repeatedly denied having ever spoken to Zammit about money or snus.
Zammit last year filed a complaint against Delfosse with the Belgian police, arguing it is against Belgian law to secretly record phone calls. According to the Times of Malta, the Belgian Commission for the Protection of Privacy has declared there could be a case for criminal proceedings to commence against Delfosse.
Apart from the phonecall, the head of public affairs for snus-producing company Swedish Match, said Zammit had solicited €60 million on Dalli’s behalf for the reversal of the EU’s suns ban during a meeting at Peppi’s Kiosk (which is owned by Zammit) back in 2012.
Johan Gabrielsson said he had asked Zammit how Swedish Match – a publicly listed company – could make €60 million disappear. Zammit’s reply was: “If there’s a will, there’s a way”
Here is the transcript of the conversation:
Silvio: “….With a guaranteed proposal to lift the ban”
Lobbyist: “You can guarantee a lift of the ban? Is that what you said?
S: “The proposal, the proposal, ok, and I can make you as well high level meetings to end the rumours, and obviously these rumours will give you the guarantee that lifting will be proposed. If you think that this first meeting is going to be carried out, or …. then yes we have to pay ten million.”
L: “Ten million?
L: “I’m sorry, I’m a poor blonde, I’m a bit shocked here”
S: “Are you sitting down by the way?”
L: “I’m almost lying down now”
S: “You’re lying down, you better have some vitamins”
L: “You know, ten million….on this level we had a scientific case, which i was hoping to win without having to…pay”
S: “I know”