Tories forfeit ‘Borodin donation’

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Published: Wednesday 22nd October 2014 by The News Editor

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The Conservative Party has forfeited a £28,000 donation made by a company reportedly linked to a Russian banker after the Electoral Commission found it was impermissible.

Labour said that the forfeiture raised “serious questions” about Tory fundraising, but a Conservative source insisted there was no question of impropriety, and said that the party had followed Electoral Commission guidance when accepting the gift and had returned the money voluntarily.

The cash was paid for a portrait of Margaret Thatcher at a party fundraising auction last year and was recorded as coming from a company called Henley Concierge.

The Commission launched a probe after reports that the company – registered to a cottage on the estate of Russian banker Andrei Borodin – was not trading in the UK, as required by electoral law.

According to a guest list leaked to the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, former Bank of Moscow president Mr Borodin – who received asylum in the UK after being targeted in a fraud investigation which he claims is politically motivated – was seated at a table with London Mayor Boris Johnson at the fundraiser.

In a statement, the Commission said: “The Electoral Commission has agreed the forfeiture of a £28,000 donation from the Conservative Party. This is the full value of a donation that the party accepted from a company called Henley Concierge Limited on 3 July 2013 and that the Commission is satisfied was impermissible.”

Under the law, donations from companies are permissible only if they are registered at Companies House and carrying on business in the UK.

Labour MP Sheila Gilmore said: “This is deeply embarrassing and serious. The rules are very clear and the Conservative Party themselves should have ensured that their fundraising activities were in accordance with the guidelines at all times.

“This raises serious questions over the Tory Party’s funding. The Tories should make clear who solicited this donation, who decided it should be registered this way and publish details of their contacts with Andrei Borodin.

“People will also want assurances that this is the only example of a donation of this kind having been arranged.”

A Conservative source said: ”Before accepting the donation in July 2013, the Conservative Party fully followed the law and Electoral Commission guidance.

”The donor’s late filing of accounts caused the Party to review the permissibility of the donor. Due to the current uncertainty about the permissibility of the donation the Party considered the most appropriate course of action in all the circumstances was to voluntarily forfeit it.

”Any suggestion of impropriety by the party is malicious and defamatory and will be treated as such.”

Meanwhile, the Commission also announced it had issued Ukip leader Nigel Farage with a £200 fine, after he failed to report the provision of free use of office premises from a donor, John Longhurst. The failure to report had been ongoing since 2001 and has been independently valued as rising from £3,500 to £3,800 per year over this time, the Commission said.

Although the donations had not been reported to the Commission, they had been properly reported to the European Parliament, and the Commission accepted that there was no attempt to hide them. Mr Farage has paid the fine.

Published: Wednesday 22nd October 2014 by The News Editor

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