An environmental and consumer protection group says the German government offered U.S. President Donald Trump's administration financial support of up to 1 billion euros ($1.21 billion) in a bid to prevent Washington from imposing sanctions on the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
According to a document published by Environmental Action Germany (DUH) on February 9, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz offered the funds for the import of U.S. liquefied natural gas in a personal letter addressed to his counterpart at the time, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
It was dated August 7, 2020, and included the offer in an attached "non-paper."
Sascha Mueller-Kraenner, the DUH executive director, called it a "scandal" and a "dirty deal at the expense of third parties."
According to the paper, the German government offered to invest in developing LNG terminals in Wilhelmshaven and Brunsbuettel on Germany's North Sea coastline.
In return, Washington was allegedly asked to permit the "unhindered construction and operation of Nord Stream 2," a Baltic Sea pipeline set to double deliveries of natural gas from Russia to Germany.
The Finance Ministry in Berlin did not initially comment on the matter, although a spokesman said a statement was being prepared.
The pipeline, which is nearing completion, is intended to carry 100 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year from Russia to Germany, but work was halted in December 2020 following the threat of sanctions from Washington.
The United States and several European countries have said the pipeline will increase Europe's energy dependency on Russia, bypass Ukraine, and deny Kyiv a lucrative source of transit revenue.
About 150 kilometers of pipe transiting Danish and German waters must be laid to complete pipeline controlled by the Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom.
U.S. President Joe Biden has called Nord Stream 2 a "bad deal for Europe."