• Simon Hart among MPs who got money from Pandora Papers company
  • Alleged dirty money funding Conservative Party
  • Sources of donors’ unexplained wealth are revealed

A LOCAL MP is one of 34 Conservative MPs who received financial support from a company named in the Pandora Papers as connected to a web of international fraud and tax dodging.

Simon Hart, MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire and the Secretary of State for Wales, disclosed contributions from Aquind Ltd and an individual associated with Aquind, Alexander Temeko, in his register of interests.


In the twelve months before 2019’s General Election, Mr Hart declared he received a total of almost £25,000 from Aquind Ltd and its public face in the UK, Mr Temerko.


Although there is no wrongdoing alleged on Mr Hart’s part, we asked for his personal views on whether the current rules governing donations to political parties were robust enough.
He did not reply.


However, the Pandora Papers’ publication highlights the seamier side of some Soviet-born emigres who’ve supported the Conservatives.

A PIPELINE OF CASH

Aquind has donated more than £365,000 to the Conservative Party in recent years, despite never generating a penny in turnover.


Its former parent company donated almost £500,000 to the Conservative Party between 2012 and 2015.
Mr Termerko is alleged to have made further personal donations totalling around £700,000 to the Conservatives.
Aquind is behind a cross-channel energy and fibre optic infrastructure project valued at £1.24bn.
The Pandora Papers reveal that Aquind’s ultimate owner is Viktor Fedotov.


Both Mr Fedotov and Mr Temerko were closely linked to the former Russian Government under Boris Yeltsin, now widely acknowledged as institutionally and fundamentally corrupt.


Mr Temerko was a member of the defence ministry under former Russian premier Boris Yeltsin dealing with armaments. He later became Vice-President of the Russian oil giant Yukos.


Mr Fedotov is named in the Pandora Papers among individuals who allegedly made their fortunes through a massive contract fraud against the Russian state oil pipeline monopoly Transneft.


One claim puts the total involved in the alleged fraud as US$4bn.


The term ‘kleptocracy’ is often applied to how those linked with Yeltsin’s government managed to enrich themselves at the public expense.


Mr Temerko and Mr Fedotov strongly deny any allegations levelled against them about any involvement in alleged wrongdoing that might be connected to the source of their prodigious personal wealth.

THE BANKER’S MILLIONS

A further prominent Russian-born Conservative donor, Lubov Chernukhin, has donated around £1.8m to the Conservatives. Her husband, Vladimir, is a former finance minister in Vladimir Putin’s government and former head of the Russian National Bank.


Allegations, denied by Mr Chernukhin, claim he massively enriched himself by exploiting his position and links to power.


The Chernukhins have built up a significant property portfolio in the UK using a network of offshore trusts and opaque corporate structures that provided no clue about their fortunes’ origins until the Pandora Papers’ publication.

The stench of back-scratching cronyism surrounding Westminster’s handling of procurement processes during the pandemic – something the UK’s courts are examining in detail – adds to the pervading sense that there’s something rotten at the heart of British politics.


Whether as the beneficiaries of money allegedly obtained through massive corruption, the Conservatives want to address that situation is another matter altogether.

Although the Party has brushed aside concerns about the size of the donations it’s received from those allegedly connected to graft and corruption elsewhere, the Prime Minister’s blasé observation that the last Labour Government brought in the current rules (there hasn’t been a Labour Government for over eleven years, Prime Minister), does little to reassure.


As long as the gravy train runs, Mr Johnson seems eager to continue to feed on it.