FOUR filthy-rich tax exiles and hedge fund managers are part of a shadowy cabal of multi-millionaire donors to the Conservative Party.
Their millions are the life blood which keeps Theresa May’s government in power and directs their fiscal policy to protect the super rich.
In the past 10 years (since 1 October 2006) the Tory Party has received a staggering £247,426,722 in personal donations from some of the richest people in the world.
Top of these was a single donation of £2,990,582 in November 2001 from tax exile Lord Irvine Laidlaw.
Hedge fund manager Sir Michael Hintze was a short way behind with a donation of £1,503,500 in March 2014 and fellow hedge fund manager Sir Stanley Fink gave £1,080,500 in February 2009.
But they were all outdone by another tax exile David Rowland whose four single donations in 2009-10 totalled a staggering £3,774,000.
Small wonder that the Tories do not want regulation of the financial sector.
These figures only include those submitted to the Electoral Commission. We have no way of knowing whether these millionaires may or may not have also donated through other associated companies or agencies.
Lord Irvine Laidlaw is a former Conservative member of the House of Lords and has long been one of the largest financial backers of the Tory Party.
Laidlaw was made a life peer as Baron Laidlaw of Rothiemay in 2004.
In 2008 he was described by The Guardian as a “Monaco-based tax exile”.
He was widely criticised in the press for failing to become UK tax resident despite being appointed to the House of Lords.
The BBC said that, in a letter seen by them, Laidlaw “cites a variety of personal reasons” for non-compliance.
Criticism by Baron Dennis Stevenson, chair of the House of Lords Appointments Commission, on assurances given to the Commission by Laidlaw to become a UK tax resident by April 2004, were followed by Laidlaw taking leave of absence from the House of Lords.
In 2010 following the enactment of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 he stepped down from his seat in the House of Lords to maintain his non-domiciled status and so be able to avoid paying UK residents’ taxes.
Sir Michael Hintze is a British-Australian businessman, steeped in the financial services industry having worked for Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs.
In 1999 he launched his own hedge fund company, CQS and has been cited as one of the highest paid people in the City of London.
In 2013, Hintze’s CQS received awards for the “Best Hedge Fund Manager Overall,” “Best Hedge Fund Manager in Credit,” and “Best Multi-Hedge Fund Manager” at the Financial News Awards for Excellence in Institutional Hedge Fund Management.
In 2006, at the time of the Cash for Peerages allegations Hintze voluntarily revealed he was one of the previously anonymous patrons who had made loans to the Conservative Party.
His known loans and donations to the party total around £4 million.
In the five months to September 2011 he donated £31,000, enough to grant him membership of the Conservative Treasurers’ Group, the second highest rung on the party’s donor’s ladder, which allows its members access to senior Conservative figures through a series of lunches, receptions and campaign launches.
In October 2011, it was revealed that Adam Werritty, a close friend and business associate of then Secretary of State for Defence Dr Liam Fox MP, was provided with a free desk by Hintze at CQS’s London base as part of his £29,000 donation to Fox’s charity Atlantic Bridge.
Hintze also supplied a private jet for Fox and Werritty to fly from the United States to London in May 2011.
These disclosures led to the resignation of Liam Fox and the dismissal of Hintze’s then-charity adviser, Oliver Hylton
Sir Stanley Fink is another hedge fund manager and the former CEO and deputy chairman of the Man Group.
He has been described as the “godfather” of the UK hedge fund industry and has been credited with building the Man Group up to its current status as a FTSE 100 company and the largest listed hedge fund company in the world.
In September 2008, he came out of retirement to act as the chief executive of International Standard Asset Management (ISAM) in a partnership with Lord Levy.
In January 2009 he was appointed co-treasurer of the Conservative Party.
On 18 January 2011, he was made a life peer, taking the title of Baron Fink of Northwood.
After the resignation of Peter Cruddas over a cash-for-access controversy, Lord Fink returned to the position of treasurer of the Conservative Party. Fink previously donated £2.62milllion to the Tories.
In February 2015 Fink was accused by Labour leader Ed Miliband as having undertaken “tax avoidance activities”.
He responded by stating that he had indeed avoided tax but stated “everyone does tax avoidance at some level”.
David Rowland is a UK property developer who has made a fortune in banking.
In 2009, Kaupthing Bank, affected by the global liquidity squeeze was divided into two entities, a ‘good, healthy’ bank and a ‘bad’ bank.
David Rowland and his son Jonathan, via their investment company Blackfish Capital, acquired and recapitalized the former and now manage the assets, on behalf of the interbank creditors, of the latter.
In the year before the 2010 General Election, Rowland donated £2.8million to the Conservative Party, making him the party’s major donor.
In 2010 he was announced as being the next Treasurer of the Conservative Party.
But following public criticism of his former status as a tax exile, Rowland resigned before taking the position.
Rowland had lived in Guernsey, but returned to full United Kingdom residency in order to make more donations to the Conservatives.
But these four millionaire donors are just the tip of a much darker side of the financing of the Conservative Party.
The Conservative Party’s close links with the hedge fund industry, coincides with research which shows that around half of the wealthiest fund managers in Britain have given money to the Tory party.
The based on public disclosures, finds that of the 59 wealthiest asset managers, 27 had made a combined £19million in donations to the Conservatives, with £10million flowing into Tory coffers since the 2010 general election alone.
Labour has previously drawn attention to the government’s abolition in 2013 of a stamp duty reserve tax on investment funds, which it described as an effective £145million “hedge fund tax cut”.
Labour claimed the hedge fund loophole had cost the country £100million a year over a five year period, and others have put the figure higher.
A similar analysis in the Financial Times found that the number of City backers for the Tories doubled during the last parliament compared with the period 2005 to 2010.
The FT found that 35% of all party funding comes from eight of the top 20 donors.
The eight are all from a City background and donated £12.2million to the Conservatives.
The Conservative Party’s top 10 funders:
1 Michael Farmer
Hedge fund: RK Capital Management
Total donation: £6,556,092
2 Sir Michael Hintze
Hedge fund: CQS
Total donation: 3,221,027
3 Lord Fink
Hedge fund: ISAM
Total donation: £3,172,007
4 Chris Rokos
Hedge fund: Brevan Howard
Total donation: £1,344,850
5 Andrew Law
Hedge fund: Caxton Associates
Total donation: £1,226,411
6 Sir Paul Ruddock
Hedge fund: Lansdowne Partners
Total donation: £818,783
7 David Harding
Hedge fund: Winton Capital
Total donation: £593,765
8 Hugh Sloane
Hedge fund: Sloane Robinson
Total donation: £533,500
9 Sir John and Peter Beckwith
Hedge fund: RiverCrest Capital
Total donation: £520,996
10 Alexander Knaster
Hedge fund: Pamplona Capital Management
Total donation: £400,000