The Conservative party’s biggest donor, the telecoms giant Lycamobile, has been raided by French police on suspicion of money laundering and tax fraud.
The Conservatives accepted almost £900,000 in donations from the firm while it was being investigated for tax fraud and money laundering.
Nineteen people were arrested after Lycamobile was raided by French police on Friday of last week.
Nine were charged, including the general manager in France Alain Jochimek.
Police have been investigating the company since last December.
Cash collectors working for the company were caught on camera dropping rucksacks containing hundreds of thousands of pounds at post offices in London. French prosecutors said that nine people had been charged with money laundering of at least £13.4 million and VAT fraud.
Lycamobile has denied financial mispractice.
Lycamobile’s Sri Lankan-born owner, Subaskaran Allirajah, is a member of the exclusive Leader’s Group for top Tory donors.
He attened the Tories’ fundraising ball in February 2015 where he bought a statue of Margaret Thatcher for £210,000.
He has dined with David Cameron or members of his cabinet twice in the past six months, and is also close to Boris Johnson, after bankrolling his general election campaign.
The Conservatives have accepted £2.2 million from Lycamobile in total and £870,000 since December.
Baron Hayward of Cumnor in the County of Oxfordshire is an ex-Tory MP. He has had some very urgent business to raise at the House of Lords.
He would like new rules in Whitehall to make more space on official forms.
The reason is so he can fit in all his titles.
Selling £90 bottles of champagne signed by the prime minister David Cameron used to be easy money for Tory fundraisers.
Perhaps it is a sign of the times that local Tory associations have cut the price of an autographed bottle in half to a don’t-miss bargain of £45.
Philip Green bucks trend with new Gulfstream
Former BHS tycoon Sir Philip Green has blown £48.4million on a private jet.
The Gulfstream G650ER is an upgrade on the exclusive plane the Monaco tax exile already owns.
Sir Philip’s wife Lady Tina is to spend £300,000 re-designing the interior.
A Gulfstream spokesperson said, “It is like an office in the sky.
“You can use your phone, it has four living areas and 100 per cent fresh air which is refreshed every two minutes.”
Fat cats and corporations are tightening their belts by hiring smaller private jets.
British air taxi operator GlobeAir offers one-way flights from London to Toulon in southern France for £6,200.
The number of flights chartered for four passengers rose by 22.6 percent in the year to April. But in the same period, bookings for eight-seat and 12-seat planes fell by 9.9 percent.
Trying times for the masters of the universe
Goldman Sachs bank’s lawyers are in London for a case filled with private jets, prostitution, drinks in Dubai and yachts in Cannes.
It may take months to resolve the curious case of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) and the small fortune it claims to have lost after Goldman’s advice.
Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman’s chief executive, said in 2009 that, by making its clients rich, his bank was “doing God’s work”.
Among emails presented in evidence by the LIA was a 2008 message from an executive.
He said of his Libyan clients, “They are very unsophisticated and anyone could ‘rape’ them.”
Another wrote to a colleague, “You have just delivered a pitch on structured leverage loans to someone who lives in the middle of the desert with his camels.”
Desmond Expresses support
“Boris more trusted than prime minister David Cameron.” And “Roaring Boris buries pro-EU camp” were two of the calmer Daily Express newspaper headlines of recent months. What they share with a great many Daily Express headlines is a love of Boris Johnson.
Owner of the Daily Express, and other pornographic titles, Richard Desmond, is keen to develop his Westferry Printers site in London’s Docklands.
The local council had been minded to reject the plan on the grounds of a lack of affordable housing. Happily though Desmond applied to have the decision made by the mayor.
And to the celebration of all, Johnson put the plans though as one of his last acts as London mayor.
On the bus to Wimbledon’s gravy train
Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond is an ex transport minister. He used to be responsible for roads. Now he is a politicial consultant for the Confederation of Passenger Transport.
They describe themselves as “recognised by the government as the voice of the bus and coach industry.”
The government is planning a bill to affect local control over bus companies. Companies are mostly concerned with keeping regulation off their buses. The £7,500 he declared in May for the companies suggests the entirely legitimate lobbying will be successful.