News Column

Businessman who is one of party's biggest ever donors: Profile Sir Michael Hintze

May 16, 2014

Rowena Mason Political correspondent



Sir Michael Hintze's gift of pounds 1.5m is one of the biggest ever donations to the Conservative party. The businessman is a long-time supporter of the Tories, giving more than pounds 3m to the party and its MPs since 2002, including George Osborne, Theresa May and David Davis.

However, this is the fourth-biggest ever donation from an individual, only beaten by Sir Paul Getty's pounds 5m donation in 2000, pounds 2.45m from Stuart Wheeler (now a Ukip donor) in 2001, and almost pounds 3m from Lord Laidlaw in 2008.

Hintze, a Australian former Goldman Sachs banker, is known for building up one of Europe's largest hedge funds, with the Forbes rich list estimating his wealth at $1.8bn.

Outside politics, he is a very large patron of the arts, giving pounds 2m to the National Gallery and pounds 5m to the Natural History Museum, which will see its main hall named after him. This latest donation was described by Sajid Javid, the culture secretary, as "a truly magnificent example of philanthropic investment".

It was his acts of charity to the arts that got Hintze knighted in the Queen's 2013 birthday honours list. Around the same time, the tax affairs of some of his companies came under scrutiny, when the Daily Mirror reported last year that his UK-based investment firms made nearly pounds 85m in a year but paid less than pounds 30,000 in corporation tax.

One of his firms also settled a pounds 23.5m bill with the taxman after using controversial employee benefit trusts to reduce tax on earnings.

He was also dragged into the headlines when former defence secretary Liam Fox resigned over the business activities of the politician's self-styled adviser Adam Werritty. Hintze's family foundation was a funder of Fox and Werritty's charity Atlantic Bridge, set up to promote the "special relationship" between the US and UK, which was ultimately struck off for lacking charitable purpose. Hintze threatened legal action to recover a pounds 60,000 loan to its US arm after it began to be wound up.

This year it was rumoured that Hintze, a funder of former chancellor Lord Lawson's climate sceptic outfit, The Global Warming Policy Foundation, had stopped giving money the Tories over gay marriage and other issues, but his chequebook appears still to be open.

In the Times this month, he said he asks for nothing in return for political donations but simply supports the way the organisation is going: "The reality with these chaps is that they are not for sale. These guys are living down the track, you don't have to agree with everything they do to say that is basically the direction of travel I want to go down. I'm not running a political party."

Hintze says he wants nothing in return for political donations: 'The reality is that

these chaps are

not for sale'



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Source: Guardian (UK)


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