The Tories made numerous payments last year to a company owned by its chairman.
Ben Elliot, who was appointed by Boris Johnson to be co-chairman of the Tories in 2019 after spending years introducing wealthy donors to the party, oversaw the payment of party funds to his own firm, Hod Hill last year.
The Tories refuse to say how much was paid to Hod Hill, a small and unaudited company owned by Elliot, which has no public profile but assets of £2.4 million. The money paid for Elliot’s long-term business partner and co-director at Hod Hill, Jakob Widecki, and one of its employees, to work at Tory party headquarters.
Elliot oversees a secretive Tory “Advisory Board”, some of whose members had given at least £250,000 to the party, which regularly meets Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Elliot, the nephew of the Duchess of Cornwall, has other links between his companies and the Tories in the form of three major party donors who are currently clients of Hawthorn Advisors, a PR firm he co-founded.
Elliot stepped down as a Hawthorn director in April 2020 but retains a 22 percent stake.
The three donors, which have given the Tories almost £1.2million since Elliot became party co-chair, currently pay Hawthorn for PR services.
Lobbyists are supposed to register their clients but PR companies don’t have to.
Mohamed Amersi, a Kenyan-born telecoms millionaire, had been paying £15,000 a year to Elliot for the privilege of being an “elite member” of the concierge service Quintessentially for almost 20 years.
Amersi paid £I00,000 for a one-on-one breakfast with Boris Johnson. Amersi had “won” his prize at an event in December 2019.
There was lunch with Jeremy Hunt, the former foreign secretary, for which he had paid a more modest £l5,000. Finally, there was a personal magic show from Penny Mordaunt, Cabinet Office minister, for the same price. Elliot also assured him he would become the chairman of a new affiliated group. Conservative Friends of the Middle East and North Africa (Comena).
This would have made Amersi the official link between Tory politicians and governments in the region.
But like the breakfast, this never happened so Amersi has started talking to the press about Tory fundraising.
Din Tai Fung, is a Taiwanese restaurant specialising in xiao long bao, or soup dumplings. Elliot is a director of Taster Food UK, the company behind the London branch, and holds large numbers of shares. At the restaurant’s grand opening in Covent Garden in December 2018, Elliot ensured instant publicity by bringing along Boris Johnson.
At the same time, Quintessentially had a government contract, worth £400,000 a year, to put on “high level” networking and hospitality events linking civil servants with would-be investors.