When wealthy individuals wade into public life by making game-changing donations to political parties or campaigns (usually in the expectation of becoming a Lord and engaging in the legislative process directly) they invite scrutiny.
This scrutiny is often objected to with outrage by such individuals and some have been known to respond with thin-skinned defamation suits after their motives have been questioned.
The likes of Aaron Banks see fit to throw large sums of money at a cause, and to loudly employ the platform provided by their wealth to promote it further, but they react with fury when questioned in the public interest.
The result has been an inadequate reporting of the exploding ‘Money Politics’ problem that has taken hold of Britain’s ruling party over the past decade and more.
What used to be considered a ‘foreign disease’ by the Westminster establishment has glaringly embedded itself in the ‘donation’ culture of the Conservative party, usually in the form of foreign money seeking to influence British decision making.
Rules to prevent such an abuse and interference are singularly lacking, given the will to prevent it is plainly lacking too. Indeed, since taking power in 2010 the Conservative party has created en entire structure of power and influence mongering in return for funding.
Access to ministers, closed circle events, honours and peerages are all being handed out to those who pay and the rules to prevent foreign money from buying such important opportunities to influence decision makers are woefully, even deliberately, lax.
Sarawak Report has exposed details of just some of the recent examples of the problem with major donors. They include the Venezuelan with a UK holding company now charged with money-laundering; the Luxembourger on the local election register now charged with forgery; the Israeli/British former party treasurer investigated by the NCA for channelling Russian money; the Indian rice tycoon now charged with fraud; the Iraqi businessman who became party chairman and now the Egyptian businessman and former minister who is the present party treasurer, namely Mohammed Mansour.
All of the above mega-donations were funded from wealth generated outside the country by foreign businesses with methods and motives that can only be obscure. This without even having broached that other and most troubling set of donors who have ties to Russia.
The Ukraine invasion at last forced the British party of government to confront the massive funding it has willingly received from a string of wealthy Russian donors whose ties to Putin have raised enormous concerns about the infiltration of the Tories.
Bit by bit the oligarchs have been sanctioned and ejected, but by no means every super wealthy donor who has had close dealings with Russia and indeed Putin himself has been invited to cease funding Tory Party institutions.
Now, staggeringly, the Conservatives have just confirmed their acceptance of a record £5million single donation from the newly and controversially appointed Senior Treasurer, the Egyptian Mohamed Mansour, a former minister during the dictatorship of Mubarak.
It is demonstrable that the party has established a clear path of graft, in terms of donations for peerages, through its system of Senior Treasurers. Previous purchasers who have held the same position included Najib’s champion, Lord Marland, who donated just £400,000, and Lord Cruddas £500,000 for their positions in the Upper Chamber.
In terms of inflation, Mansour’s payment has sky-rocketed the value of this purchase of a seat in the House of Lords. However, once again, the business profile of this donor raises questions that must be addressed.
The Egyptian billionaire businessman and politician only recently altered his stated place of abode from Cairo to the UK. He did that was after he was appointed Party Chairman of the ruling Conservatives at the start of the year and only after Sarawak Report pointed out that Wikipedia still said he lived in Cairo.
However, more troubling even than his business, Unatrac, being based in Egypt, is how that business has reportedly thrived during the past year following the Russian invasion of Ukraine – an atrocity which Britain has rightly taken a leading role in seeking to oppose.
Despite the growing raft of British sanctions against Russia since February 2022, this prominent Conservative party donor and insider continued to operate his Egyptian company’s business franchises in Russia which were worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Indeed, Mansour only finally announced the ‘suspension’ of his Russian subsidiary Mantrac’s operations earlier this month, following growing criticism in the press. That was after a whole year of continuing to trade as the franchise holder for Caterpillar trucks in Russia, providing what must have been a hugely important asset to Russia’s war machine.
Mantrac also supplies equipment to Russia’s oil and gas industry and can only have therefore benefitted from escalating prices of Russia’s key export whilst providing vital support to the Russian war economy.
Indeed, Egypt, is one of the Russia’s closest trading partners and has announced record rises in trading volume and profit over the war-time period, thereby helping the Russian economy to shrug off sanctions as it pummels Ukraine and creating a huge wealth bonanza for the Egyptian businessmen involved – Mohamed Mansour being one of the most prominent.
It is therefore clear that the super-generous donation made by Mansour, to bolster the Conservative re-election campaign, was made from personal wealth that has been exponentially enriched by Russia’s war, thanks to Mansour’s failure to join in the sanctions being imposed by the party he has bankrolled.
If such a concept is acceptable to the Conservative party of Rishi Sunak it is troubling, not least owing to the concerns over allegiance involving anyone who has successfully operated a major business in Putin’s Russia.
Putin demands compliance and loyalty from those who make a profit in that country and it is learnt that Mr Mansour has met with the dictator privately more than once in the context of his business operations.
At the very least full disclosure must surely be provided by the Senior Treasurer and record mega-donor of the UK party of government as to a) From where exactly did the £5 million come which was paid into the Conservative party? b) Whether Mr Mansour, who has already been required to come to a £5 million settlement with HMRC over earlier underpayments of taxes from his companies, enjoys non-domicile status in the UK ? c) Have Mantrac’s Russian operations been merely ‘suspended’ or are they closed? d) When did the businessman meet with Putin, on whose request and what was discussed? e) How many government ministers have attended the private policy events hosted by Mr Mansour at his Eaton Square home for the benefit of major donors? f) How much money has Mr Mansour paid to Hawthorne Advisors, the PR company owned by the former Tory Chairman Ben Elliot whom he has engaged to represent him?
The Conservative party are a party of business interests, and therefore fully understand there is no such thing as a free lunch nor a major political donation without strings attached or an ulterior motive in the background.