£50,000 donation to Conservatives linked to controversial billionaire

Journalist Lee Fang has identified a £50,000 donation to the Conservative Party made by a company controlled by the Lebanese billionaire Fouad Makhzoumi who was at the centre of a political scandal involving the Russians ahead of the French Presidential election:

As The Guardian explains of the French scandal:

The French presidential candidate François Fillon has been hit by allegations he was paid $50,000 (£40,000) to arrange a meeting between a Lebanese billionaire and Vladimir Putin…

Fillon’s spokesman vigorously denied the allegation, saying Canard Enchaîné’s “insinuations” were “completely without foundation”. The Kremlin dismissed the report as “fake news”.

Further back in the past, Fouad Makhzoumi was part of a political scandal which brought down a Conservative minister in the UK, involving one of the country’s most famous legal actions:

Fouad Makhzoumi was involved in the scandal which brought down the disgraced Conservative politician Jonathan Aitken…

[He] recruited Aitken to the board of one of his companies in the 1980s. But Aitken failed to declare the directorship and, as the arms sales minister, promoted a military equipment deal for his friend in the 1990s. Aitken was jailed for perjury in 1999 after lying in a libel action against the Guardian.

When he previously donated to the Conservatives in 2009 (even) the Daily Mail commented, “The party’s decision to re-establish financial links with him is likely to raise serious concerns about its vetting of potentially controversial donations.”

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