Case Open, the fears of British American tobacco managers for the donations of Bat Italia to the Open Foundation

There is a document among those filed during the preliminary hearing that according to the investigators qualifies the relationship between the Open Foundation and one of its main financiers, British American Tobacco. A document exchanged on January 22, 2016 between the former vice president of Bat Italia, Gianluca Ansalone, and the former external relations manager, Giovanni Carucci, two of the eleven defendants (together with Matteo Renzi and the main exponents of Giglio magic) for which the gup of Florence will have to decide on the possible indictment: for the two managers the accusation is of corruption, in competition with the former undersecretary Luca Lotti, for having requested (and according to the accusations obtained) favor. Capturing the attention of financiers is a passage entitled “The reason for the relationship between Bat Italia and the Open Foundation”, prepared according to the reconstruction to reject the perplexities of the managers of the English parent company on the nature and appropriateness of donations (175 thousand euros the total).

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The analysis starts from afar: “The decision to support Open was somehow timely and strategic (…) Italy was experiencing a very uncertain period, the macroeconomic scenario was gloomy, Mr. Letta’s government was not enough strong due to a substantial balance between majority and opposition votes in Parliament; Renzi was raising his stakes quickly and effectively first as Secretary of the majority party (PD) and then as Prime Minister “. The file continues with the (alleged) strategies put in place by the competition to breach the executive: “Two important facts have led BAT Italia to fear a pungent and aggressive strategy of the PMI (Philip Morris Italia, ed). Taking advantage of a vacuum political and relative inexperience of the new government representatives, PMI has begun to propaganda and promote in two main fields: a drastic change in excise duties, to help the government collect more money; the opening of the Bologna factory, with a investment of half a billion euros and 600 new jobs. In October 2014, Prime Minister Renzi personally cut the ribbon at the inauguration of the PMI factory in Bologna “.

The case

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The two managers focus precisely on Renzi: “Supporting the Open Foundation as a tool to confirm alignment with projects, freshness, energy and ideas (…) To approve and publicly present a valid investment plan in Italy of 5 years and a billion euros, based on three main pillars: Italian machinery and equipment, tobacco leaves, Italian marketing and research. To propose a meeting between Nicandro (CEO of Bat Italia, ed) and Prime Minister Renzi “. A meeting then took place, at least to read the document. “During this meeting, specific projects and commitments that are part of our investment plan in Italy were illustrated. The meeting was greatly appreciated by both the Prime Minister and Mr. Lotti”. A reference, that to the former undersecretary, underlined several times by the investigators. Lotti, according to the allegations, would have been the terminal of lobby pressure, making himself available to neutralize unwelcome amendments (such as the one on the increase in excise duties on cigarettes or on electronic cigarettes) and in general to offer a channel of communication with the government.

“The content of that meeting is still considered as a guiding star of the strategy and work of BAT Italia in the country – we read again – All this was confirmed by Lotti during a closed-door event organized in Florence on January 15 between the executive committee of the Open Foundation (Lotti, Boschi, Bianchi, Carrai) and the main “friends and supporters” – quoted from the words of Minister Boschi – of the Foundation “. Then the note: “It would not even be correct to say that the activities described above have had little or no influence on the political and technical debate which then consequently led to a new structure of excise duties in Italy, in force since January 2015”.

Also according to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, in 2015 BAT Italia accounted for a contribution to the Foundation of 50,000 euros as an operating expense, “like a cost that can be counted among the charges”.

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