In front of the deputies, François Fillon defends himself from any Russian “interference”
He wanted to be firm and categorical. “No interference” nor russians ” one cent “…
He wanted to be firm and categorical. “No interference” nor russians ” one cent “ received, and a career in the private sector which “only look” him: François Fillon was heard on Tuesday, May 2, at the ***embly on his links with Moscow and his past presence on the boards of directors of Russian multinationals. The former right-wing candidate for the 2017 presidential election appeared before the commission of inquiry launched by the National Rally (RN) and devoted to the “political, economic and financial interference by foreign powers”.
The former Prime Minister first spoke of his “thirty-six years of public life”as deputy, minister or head of government from 2007 to 2012. “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 the president [Nicolas] Sarkozy for five years by the NSA »the US National Security Agency, he said. “I was not directly affected by Russian interference”he adds.
“If I want to sell rillettes in Red Square, I will sell rillettes in Red Square”
Mr. Fillon then spoke of his retraining in the private sector and his presence for a time 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. The former head of government insisted on the private nature of his activities: “I lead my professional career as I see fit, if I want to sell rillettes in Red Square, I will sell rillettes in Red Square. ».
“All this happened at the end of 2021. I attended a council meeting of the Zarubezhneft company” and to one “videoconferencing advice due to Covid from the company Sibur” Before ” my resignation “, “since the invasion of Ukraine”did he declare. “I have never touched a penny of money from Russia in all my political and private life”he ***ured, even if “I would naturally have been paid” whether “I continued” to sit on these two boards of directors.
François Fillon was also questioned about the French company Cifal, which operates in Russia and is the subject of a preliminary investigation by the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) for suspicion of corruption of a foreign public official. According to a source familiar with the matter, Cifal was commissioned by the Congolese company Orion – headed by Lucien Ebata, special adviser to the President of Congo-Brazzaville Denis S***ou Nguesso – to find an investor in Russia to sell its shares in the MBK oil field to. congo.
Invasion of Ukraine: “I was wrong”
With this in mind, the leader of Cifal, Gilles Rémy, called on François Fillon to put him in touch with a Russian businessman. In this contract, Mr. Fillon was remunerated as a business contributor. No suspicion of corruption currently weighs on him, said this source familiar with the matter. “I am not concerned by the ongoing investigations, I worked for a company which is concerned by an investigation”underlined Mr. Fillon, who has a “great respect for Cifal and its leader”.
Geopolitically, “I was wrong on one point, I readily admit it. I was convinced that the President [Vladimir] Putin would not take action” in Ukraine, “an absolute disaster”, said François Fillon. The commission of inquiry into foreign interference, chaired by National Rally (RN) deputy Jean-Philippe Tanguy, was launched by Marine Le Pen’s group at the end of 2022 to try to cut short accusations that the far-right party an agent of Russian influence in France. The other camps denounce a “diversion” of the RN.
Several politicians have already been interviewed. For the rapporteur Constance Le Grip (Renaissance), “the most salient point” of this committee “remains the strategy of influence and interference between Russia and the FN, which has become RN, with Marine Le Pen’s meeting at the Kremlin” before the 2017 presidential election. On Thursday, former RN MEP Jean-Luc Schaffhauser will be heard on the Russian loan of 9.4 million euros granted to Marine Le Pen’s party in 2014. The commissions he would have received make the under investigation by the PNF.
The World with AFP