Political

Ashcroft’s funding of the Conservative Party set to be investigated

Following yesterday’s Sunday Times investigation into the route by which money is being funneled by Lord Ashcroft into the Conservative Party, a Labour MP is now asking the Electoral Commission to investigate.

The Sunday Times reported that:

Stargate has channelled ยฃ6m to the UK in the past three years, a large chunk of which appears to have ended up in the Conservative party accounts. The offshore company appears to have alighted on a lawful scheme that circumvents the banning of foreign donations to British political parties…

Ashcroft, who still has extensive business interests in Belize, was appointed party treasurer in 1998. He was initially blocked for a peerage, but was made a peer in 2000 on the condition that he would become resident in the UK and hence start paying British taxes.

To this day he has not said whether he has honoured that pledge…

He was last listed as an individual donor in April 2002, but has since given [to the Conservatives] through Bearwood Corporate Services Ltd (BCS) … It is a complex sequence of deals, but the thread of money appears to run from Stargate Holdings in Belize City to the heart of Tory finances. This was not denied by Ashcroft or the Conservatives last week…

The exact reason for the BCS scheme is unclear, but it may have been seen by Ashcroft as a tax-efficient means of giving significant funds to the party … Tax is unlikely to have been paid on the money from Belize when it came into the country … BCS is also unlikely to have paid significant tax because it has made significant losses in the past three years, largely due to the political donations.

Now Labour MP John Mann has asked the Electoral Commission to investigate.

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