The MV Climate and Environmental Protection Foundation wants to settle its liabilities to the Gazprom subsidiary Nord Stream 2 AG. The ailing company based in Switzerland should get back twelve million euros. This was announced by the head of the foundation and ex-Prime Minister Erwin Sellering to an editor of WELT AM SONNTAG after his institution had been ordered by the Schwerin district court to provide the relevant information.
According to this, ten million euros of the sum is attributable to proceeds from the “sale of machines, devices and materials” and the purchase of which Nord Stream 2 had once financed. The foundation wants to repatriate another two million because it stopped work on the Baltic Sea pipeline after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, for which it had previously accepted advance payments.
The financial transfer planned by Sellering is politically and legally sensitive. US President Joe Biden had instructed his administration to impose punitive measures against Nord Stream 2 the day before the war broke out. To this day, they are directed against private companies that continue to maintain business relationships with the Swiss Gazprom subsidiary.
Against this background, the climate foundation would find it difficult to find a financial institution that would transfer an amount in the tens of millions to accounts associated with the sanctioned company. However, if Sellering does not succeed in repaying the amount, there is a risk of a year-long legal dispute.
After the pipeline project was stopped, Nord Stream 2 is in acute danger of insolvency. A grace period runs until mid-September, during which a trustee will check whether rescue is possible. The Swiss lawyer told WELT AM SONNTAG that he could not provide any information on the claims against the climate foundation.
Sellering, in turn, reports that talks are being held with Nord Stream 2 to cut all connections. The aim is a “release agreement”. So far, however, it has “not yet been clarified” whether the foundation is “hindered by sanctions law” from transferring the money. You will “adhere to applicable law”.
The facts that have now become known show how closely the climate foundation set up by the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Nord Stream 2, which was ultimately controlled by the Kremlin, were intertwined. This applies above all to the foundation’s business operations, which are to be completed by the end of September.
It was set up in early 2021 to complete the construction of the pipeline threatened by US sanctions. Sellering had long dismissed questions about how the company worked. The former SPD politician told the news portal T-Online at the beginning of the year that it was a matter of countering “attempts at intimidation contrary to international law” from Washington. That will be “not the subject of public discussion”.
In the meantime, Sellering has had to provide this editorial team with detailed insights into the economic business operations on several occasions. He concluded 119 contracts with 80 service providers and suppliers, for example about “helicopter crew transport” or “pre-commissioning services in Russia”. At the same time, eight machines were purchased, including the “Blue Ship”, a large special ship for rock placement.
Sellering estimates the order volume at 165 million euros. The construct financed by Nord Stream 2 moved up into the ranks of the 30 top-selling companies in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Sellering does not want to disclose the companies with which contracts have been concluded. The disclosure of the names was ordered by a court. The foundation is now resisting this on the grounds that the companies “must fear considerable business-damaging and even existence-threatening disadvantages”.
A ten-page brief states that anyone who has contact with the foundation must expect to be “pilloried”. Sellering blames his successor Manuela Schwesig, of all people, who once pushed the foundation of the climate foundation against all odds.
Now the foundation complains that Schwesig’s government sees it as a “poisonous thorn in the side of the country”. The result is that partners of the foundation are “tainted with damage to the common good”. This is part of the “public anti-attitude against anything Russian”.