Italian politicians are furious public broadcaster RAI paid Greece’s provocative former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis 24,000 euros for a 22-minute interview.
The fee – equivalent to $26,300 or more than 1,000 euros a minute – was paid out to Varoufakis for an appearance on RAI 3 on September 27, along with a first-class plane ticket, the renegade economist revealed on his own blog.
Varoufakis, who was dismissed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras after being defiant to the country’s creditors, said he wanted to disclose the payment, ironically to prove he wasn’t getting rich by speaking when he is.
He listed 20 events at which he had spoken for free or for economy-class flights only, and three more for which he earned between 500 and 1,700 euros.
But there were also two “commercial” appearances – the RAI interview and a presentation at a conference in Singapore – for which he earned 24,000 euros and 28,800 respectively.
Renato Brunetta, leader of the Forza Italia (FI) party in the lower House of Parliament, denounced the huge payout from RAI, saying it was “extremely serious, unprecedented,” Agence France Presse reported.
“Do Italians pay their subscription to RAI to pay Varoufakis? I hope not,” wrote FI spokeswoman Mara Carfagna on Twitter.
RAI said Varoufakis had been contacted directly by Endemol, the production company behind the program, which had negotiated the fee.
Varoufakis appeared on a 60-minute TV debate for the BBC just three days before the Italian interview – for no fee, just an economy-class plane ticket.
He defended his big paydays for the Italian and Singapore appearances, saying they allowed him to remain “independent from vested interests” and to support his “other activities”