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Russians Allegedly Offered Oil Money To Fund Italy’s Far Right

Three Italians—including a close aide to Italy’s far-right Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini—and three Russians allegedly held a meeting in Moscow last October to plan an oil deal at discounted prices, with the discount of US$65 million to be allegedly channeled to fund Salvini’s far-right Lega party, BuzzFeed News reported on Wednesday, claiming it has the transcript of the meeting.

The meeting in October in a Moscow hotel was not attended by Salvini, but Giancluca Savoini, a close aide to Italy’s far-right leader and deputy prime minister, was in attendance and discussed with the other five people how to turn an apparent oil deal between Italian and Russian companies via intermediaries into a channel to fund (illicitly under Italian law) the Lega party ahead of the European elections this past May, according to the audio and the transcript that BuzzFeed News has published.

The names of the companies Eni of Italy, and Rosneft and Lukoil from Russia, as well as oil trader Trafigura, are mentioned in various suggestions on how to structure the oil deal, according to the transcript that BuzzFeed News published today.  

The BuzzFeed report naturally drew reactions in Italy.

Matteo Renzi of the opposition Democratic Party and former Italian prime minister between 2014 and 2016 reacted to the BuzzFeed News report, tweeting that “it’s either fake news or a sensational scoop. Using Russian oil to finance the Lega? Sounds crazy. Salvini is the only one who could shed light on this: and he should, immediately.”

Nicola Zingaretti, the secretary of the Democratic Party, reacted with a tweet: “Russian rubles to the Lega for an election campaign against the euro? Everything should be clarified immediately.” 

Salvini and Savoini denied the allegations and Salvini said he was ready to sue for libel.

“I have sued before, I’ll to it today too: I have never taken a single ruble, a euro, a dollar, or a liter of vodka in financing from Russia,” Salvini said, as carried by Italian media.

“There have never been either funds or money for the Lega from anyone quoted by BuzzFeed,” Savoini told Italian news outlet Adnkronos.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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