Sunday, March 26, 2006

To cringe before the rich man's frown

The Conservatives have confirmed that hedge fund boss Michael Hintze lent the party £2m - and gave it £250,000 - ahead of the last general election.

He can afford it, of course. It seems he pays himself £60m a year through the Cayman Islands registered company CQS.

The main reason companies that operate in London register themselves in the Caribbean is to avoid having to pay the taxes that fund British schools and hospitals. Hintze effectively rips society off by tens of millions of pounds a year.

The Observer also reports that the Tories got £15,000 from Finnish property billionaire Poju Zabludowicz. This man cannot legally make direct political donations because he is not a British citizen. Instead, he simply circumvented the the law by channelling the gift through his UK company, Tamares Real Estate Investments.

Tory leader David Cameron also described claims that Swedish businessman Johan Eliasch made the party an emergency loan of £1m, which has now been rolled over, as 'speculation'. But given that the chief executive of sportswear marketer Head is the Conservatives' deputy treasurer, we'll take that as a yes, Dave.

The Sunday Times annual Rich List has Eliasch down at number 127, with an estimated worth of £345m. Much of that wealth comes from the surplus labour of workers in sweatshops across the global South.

Head subcontractors include PT Busana in Indonesia, where 174 employees were last year sacked for taking industrial action. According to an account from one young woman:

'Management illegally dismissed all of us who participated in the strike. Since then, we have not been able to work, we have received no severance pay, no child support, no benefits. None at all. It is very hard for us right now to support ourselves, let alone our families.'

No chance of a donation to their hardship fund I suppose, Mr Eliasch? Or even a loan?

Meanwhile, both the Sunday Times and the Sunday Telegraph reveal that deputy prime minister John Prescott made key planning decisions in favour of Minerva, a company chaired at various times by Labour lenders Sir David Garrard and Andrew Rosenfield.

Prezza insists that he has never met either of them, and certainly did not know that they were financial supporters of the Labour Party.

John, mate if you're reading this ... I sort of half recall a song that I used to see you join in with at Labour Party conferences. It had this line in it. Something to do with cringing before the rich man's frown or something. If you can remember the lyrics, drop me an email.

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