“I did not touch a penny from Russia”, ***ures Fillon to the ***embly
The reconversion of François Fillon in the private sector and in particular in Russian companies…
The reconversion of François Fillon in the private sector and in particular in Russian companies raises questions. The former Prime Minister was heard on Tuesday by the National ***embly’s commission of inquiry into foreign interference.
“I was not directly affected by Russian interference” and my “professional career” in the private sector “only concerns me”, he said. “Never, during my 36 years of public life, could we find an action influenced by a foreign power”, insists the former head of government of Nicolas Sarkozy for almost 5 years.
The former president of the Republicans in the presidential election confirmed his brief presence on the board of directors of the Russian companies Sibur (petrochemicals) and Zarubezhneft (hydrocarbons), before he resigned after the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army. “There is absolutely no friction between Zarubezhneft and France, (it is) a company that does not operate in France”, but “mainly in Asia”, he defended himself.
He also detailed having “attended a council meeting with the Zarubezhneft company” and a “videoconference meeting due to Covid from the Sibur company” before “my resignation from these two boards of directors as soon as the invasion of the Ukraine,” said François Fillon. “I never received any money, not a penny from Russia, I resigned before,” he repeats several times.
However, he acknowledged that the companies for which he “worked, whether Russian or American, recruited me for my experience as a former Prime Minister, my vision of the world…”. The former deputy of Sarthe also specifies that it is “not just my address book” that interested these companies.
“I am a private and free person”
François Filon wanted to demonstrate that Russia was not a country more inclined than another to practice interference, during this commission of inquiry chaired by the National Rally (RN). “Foreign interference, yes, I encountered it, most of the time, it came from a friendly and allied country called the United States. I was listened to with President Sarkozy for five years by the NSA”, the American National Security Agency, he said in particular.
François Fillon also mentioned “Chinese espionage” or possible “interference from countries such as Turkey, Morocco, Algeria which directly give voting instructions during French elections through religious leaders”. , says the former politician.
He then mentioned his private conversion . “In 2017, I left public life for good. I started a professional career to become a private person,” he recalls. “I am not accountable to anyone, naturally respecting the laws of the Republic,” he underlined about his consulting activities. “I am a private person and free of my activities, if I want to sell rillettes on the red square I will do it”, he insists.
It remains to be seen whether he has convinced this commission, which has been working for several weeks and must complete its work in early June. The latter, however, is controversial in the ***embly. Indeed, the other parliamentary groups accuse the far right of a strategy of “diversion” in the face of accusations of proximity between the RN and the Kremlin. Suspicions raised by the other elected members of the commission in the course of questions asked during this hearing.