During the BBC debate on 31 May, Home Secretary Amber Rudd repeatedly used the jibe that Labour has a “magic money tree” to fund its policies. But if the latest figures on donations to political parties are anything to go by, it’s the Tories who are making money out of thin air. And a lot of that ‘air’ appears to be from offshore tax havens.
Since campaigning began on 3 May, the Conservative Party has raised £9.5m in donations. This compares to Labour’s £3.4m. But when you dig deeper into just who has been donating to each party, a pattern emerges. Because Labour’s main donations came from unions like Unite, Unison and the GMB. Theresa May’s donor list, meanwhile, reads like a who’s who of tax avoiders, property developers, and crony capitalists.
A who’s who of dodgy donors
The Tories’ donors included:
- Sir Henry and Lady Keswick – £150,000 [pdf]. Keswick’s company Jardine Matheson was linked to tax avoidance via Luxembourg and has numerous subsidiaries in tax haven Bermuda.
- Charles ‘Julian’ Cazalet – £10,000 [pdf]. Cazalet is a non-executive director of NHS private provider Deltex Medical Group.
- John Griffin – £900,000 [pdf]. Griffin and his private hire firm Addison Lee were caught up in a lobbying and tax avoidance scandal in 2012.
- David J Rowland – £200,000 [pdf]. The Canary conducted a major investigation into Rowland in 2016, and described his offshore tax affairs as “mind blowing”.
- Andrew E Law – £250,000 [pdf]. Law is a hedge fund owner whose firm Caxton Associates is registered in the US tax avoidance state of Delaware.
- Malcolm Healey – £100,000 [pdf]. Healey was fined by HMRC in 2015 for making £8.6m [pdf] by using a tax avoidance scheme.
- Bruce Hardy McLain – £100,000 [pdf]. McLain’s private investment firm CVC Capital Partners is currently embroiled in a £5m bribery and tax avoidance scandal involving Formula One.
- Ayman and Sawsan Asfari – £100,000 [pdf]. Ayman is currently under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office. He also runs oil company Petrofac, which avoids tax via Jersey.
- Rainy City Investments – £100,000 [pdf]. Owned by Peter and Fred Done, who were fined £800,000 by the Serious Fraud Office over money laundering allegations.
- Investors in Private Capital Ltd – £150,000 [pdf]. Owned by James ‘Jamie’ Reuben, family friend of George Osborne, it paid no UK corporation tax in 2014 [pdf p13], despite a turnover [pdf p17] of £35m.
- John C Armitage – £1m [pdf p4 and pdf p4]. Armitage is the founder of Egerton Capital, a hedge fund that enables tax avoidance for investors.
- JCB Service – £500,000 [pdf]. It’s owned by Anthony Bamford, who was not only named in the Panama Papers, but who operates JCB out of tax haven Bermuda.
And the list goes on.
A “great meritocracy”? The Tories?
The total number of donations since 3 May are in excess of 160. The majority are seemingly from bankers, property tycoons, and friends of the Tories in the City. The PM made much of wanting to create a “great meritocracy” in the UK. But judging by who’s funding her floundering general election campaign, she and the Tories believe in no such thing. Unless it’s only for the rich and powerful, of course.
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