News Column

Hedge fund boss gives Conservatives their biggest donation in six years

May 16, 2014

Rowena Mason, theguardian.com



The billionaire hedge fund manager Sir Michael Hintze has given the Conservatives their single biggest donation for six years with a 1.5m gift a year before the general election.

The donation means the Conservatives outstripped Labour in private funding during the first three months of the year, bringing in 6.7m compared with the opposition's 4.4m.

The trade union Unite was the biggest donor in the quarter as it handed over 1.8m to Labour more than double its typical quarterly funding for the party.

The cash shows Unite is still squarely behind Labour despite Ed Miliband's shakeup of union funding and a warning from Len McCluskey, the general secretary, that the party needs to offer more than a pale shade of austerity or risk disaffiliation.

Among the other parties, the Liberal Democrats got 1,074,482, Ukip received 493,412 and the Greens got 233,512.

Big donations to the Conservatives also included 257,500 each from the party co-treasurers James Lupton and Michael Farmer.

But the most significant was the lump sum from Hintze, who was knighted in 2013 and has been entertained with his wife at a "thank you" dinner by the prime minister in Number 10.

The hedge fund manager has come under scrutiny over the tax affairs of his CQS group's companies. The Daily Mirror reported last year that his UK-based investment firms made nearly 85m in a year but paid less than 30,000 in corporation tax.

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

It was rumoured that Hintze had stopped donating to the party over gay marriage and other issues but this is the biggest cheque he has written for the Conservatives since he started funding them a decade ago. He also loaned the party 2.5m through an investment trust in 2005.


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Source: Guardian Web


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