Campaigners rail against Tories in ‘cash for conservatives’ scandal

Nathanael Williams

Campaign groups and MPs challenge Tories over alleged “dirty money” through banks 

CAMPAIGN GROUPS AND OPPOSITION MPs have expressed outrage at the alleged connections between money raised by the HSBC banking corporation and the Conservative party’s spending in the General Elections of 2010 and 2015.

According to the group Debt Resistance UK, HSBC awarded a multi-million pound loan to a highly indebted firm IPGL Ltd which is chaired by the Tory Party treasurer and chief fundraiser Michael Spencer.

IPGL and its subsidiaries donated over £5m to the Tories, which campaigners say resulted in concessions from Tory governments on tax, money laundering and investigations into international bank fraud.

“When private companies make big donations to political parties there is usually an expectation that their influence will be extended.” Alexander Runswick

Alexander Runswick, the director of transparency group Unlock Democracy, said: “Despite reporting substantial and consistent losses, IPGL made sizeable donations to the Conservative party over many years. For a company in financial crisis, this was a high-risk strategy.

“When private companies make big donations to political parties there is usually an expectation that their influence will be extended, and so a question must be raised about what they were expecting to get in return. A question must also be raised about HSBC’s role, and whether they were aware the loan they made may have been used to fund political donations.”

According to campaigners, a leaked internal email showed that the bank violated its own anti money-laundering rules which require it to screen high-risk political clients.

A list showing some of the donations given by IPGL Ltd to the Tory party

Documents detailing the loans from HSBC, obtained by Debt Resistance UK, show the bank lent over £214m to IPGL Ltd who in turn gave more than £5.3m to the Conservatives from 2007 to July of last year. According to the files of IPGL the UK Prime Minister Theresa May had her leadership campaign for the Tories bankrolled by the same firm to the tune of £20,000.

Roger Mullin MP, a treasury spokesperson for the SNP, said: “This is a very serious and deeply worrying case, suggesting that a major bank and a business customer have been involved in activities serious enough to warrant a criminal investigation. I shall be writing to the Electoral Commission, there must be an investigation into this and before the General Election of 2017.”

Rebecca Mitchell, who works for the PR firm Maitland on behalf of IPGL, said: “As IPGL is a private company, it does not have any comment on this.”

HSBC, Spencer and the Tories declined to comment on the claims.

Picture courtesy of Adrian Scottow

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