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Morrison Government must stop protecting Russian Beetaloo Billionaire Oligarch

Media Release
Adam Bandt 17 Mar 2022

The Greens are calling on Scott Morrison to immediately add to the sanctions list a Russian billionaire oligarch conducting business in Australia on the Scott Morrison-backed Betaloo gas project. 

Australia has recently listed a whole range of Russian billionaire oligarchs who got filthy rich through Putin, but in a move that will surprise no one, the Morrison government is offering special protections for those oligarchs with connections to the coal and gas industry. 

Viktor Vekselberg is conspicuously not listed. The Kremlin-connected billionaire has been on the US sanctions list since 2018 and the UK listed him this week. He is the biggest owner of Falcon Energy, which is in a partnership with Origin Energy with massive exploration permits to frack the Beetaloo Basin. 

DFAT will appear before the Beetaloo inquiry (which the Greens initiated and chair) next Friday, 24th March to clarify who is pulling strings that appears to be letting Russian Oligarchs, when connected to fossil fuels, slip the net.

The Greens are also calling for a suspension of Falcon Energy’s joint exploration permit unless the government can demonstrate that financial benefits will not flow to one of Putin’s cabal. 

Quotes attributable to Greens Leader Adam Bandt MP:

“While Scott Morrison has sanctioned a range of Russian billionaire oligarchs, he has left out those in the oil, coal and gas industry. 

“For Scott Morrison, it’s one rule for oil, coal and gas billionaires and another for everyone else, even on an issue as clear as sanctions on Russia. 

“The Greens have an inquiry into the Beetaloo gas mine proposal and we’re calling DFAT to appear to explain who in the government is running a protection racket for a Russian billionaire oligarch, bunkered in Switzerland, who stands to profit from this climate-wrecking publicly subsidised Beetaloo disaster.

“As well as imposing sanctions on this billionaire oligarch, the government should suspend Falcon's massive exploration permit over traditional owner and pastoralist's titles, both of whom are vehemently opposed to fracking their underground water.”

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