“The amendment is dead.” Mission accomplished. Word of Luca Lotti, at the time Minister of the Gentiloni government, directly to the managers of the British American Tobacco (Bat), alarmed by an amendment to the 2017 budget law that committed the government to increase excise duties on tobacco by reducing the profits of the big names in the sector. The amendment jumped to the last, with all due respect to the Treasury. According to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the episode is one of those which, together with the illicit financing, also constitute the crime of corruption for the former minister, the president of Open Bianchi and for two Bat managers, the vice president Gianluca Ansalone and the external relations manager, Giovanni Weather in Carucci. In the years 2014-2017, those that count in this story, Bat directly financed the Renzian Open safe with 250 thousand thousand euros, has entrusted two consultancy duties directly to the law firm of the president Alberto Bianchi and, last bat not least, he also made Renzi’s treasurer sit down Lorenzo Anichini directly in the company’s board of statutory auditors. These, according to the papers now filed at the end of the investigation, would be the counterparts for which Lotti & c would have made theparliamentary activity, in exchange for economic benefits for themselves or others. But Renzi gave the “hustlers” to the Northern League, accusing them of acting in the interests of the nicotine industry.
Let’s go in order. The financial relations between Bat and the Renzian lily are described in the minutes of the Gdf of Florence which a year ago broke into the Roman offices of the multinational, acquiring the accounting documentation and seizing two folders headed with the words “Open Foundation” e “Bianchi“. The investigative activity then made it possible, also thanks to the chats taken from telephone users, to reconstruct the very close relationship between the Renziano lily and the managers of the second largest tobacco company in the world. Then the invitations to Leopolda, where the Italian top management of the company can meet ministers and deputy ministers (“There is Deputy Minister of Health De Filippo, it can be interesting”), then the 20 thousand euro electoral dinners with Renzi, Carrai, Boschi and Lotti. The risk of a sting on smoke also flashes between 2015 and 2016, Bianchi takes action with the Minister of Health Beatrice Lorenzin (not investigated) to prevent him (“You are decisive”, we read in an email). And a few months later, the investigation ascertains, Lorenzo Anichini who was Renzi’s trusted treasurer (“Basta un si” Committee) gets one armchair in the board of statutory auditors of the Bat.
It is the conviction of the magistrates that the post was assigned to please the minister Lotti. Evidence of this would come from the fact that the curriculum vitae of the chosen one was sent directly by one of his collaborators. When questioned on this point, Anichini first denies then is forced to admit: “It was Lotti who told me that there was the possibility of being appointed statutory auditor of Bat”. At the record there is also a whatsapp message from the person in charge pubblic affairs in bat Gianluca Ansalone to Lotti himself who removes all doubts: “Dear Luca, I have just received confirmation from London the co-optation of Anichini, which will be resolved at the meeting on 26 April. I’ll call him shortly but I wanted to update you in real time first of all “. Anichini will also admit to having received compensation in 2016 from companies attributable to the Maestrelli family of Florence, whose loans to Open are in the investigation documents.
And we are at the epilogue of these intertwining and investments in the political staff of the Renziano lily. In November 2017 – rebuilds The print – the Chamber materializes theamendment which risks passing through the trap of changes to the Budget law, the general mobilization by the Bat leaders who chat with Lotti, interest his collaborators, arrive at the Undersecretary Baretta e ad Antonio Funiciello who was on the staff of Prime Minister Gentilloni. Declared objective: “the death of the amendment “, a question “vital for us”. Even the leader of the Democratic Party Ettore Rosato is informed via whatsapp. It is night when we argue. Lotti is activated. One of his collaborators oversees the commission and directly informs the managers. And it is the minister himself who announces the victory: “From majority meeting, amendment dead”.
The Bat-Gate in Renzian style, beyond the judicial developments, has embarrassing riots for the leader of Italia Viva. For example, the allegations made against the League remain in the records, right a year later, to be in the pay of the other side of the smoking industry. At the end of November 2018, the case of election funding in favor of the Carroccio for 75 thousand euros by a leading company in liquids for the electronic cigarette. The contribution received by Vaporart was duly declared and ended up in the crosshairs of the Renzians only when the League filed an amendment to cut the penalties on unpaid excise duties on inhaled products. Then Renzi accused the Northern League of being “hustlers”. Except keeping quiet, in the meantime, about everything that is coming to the surface now.