February 02, 2006

Rich Bastards

Why did Britian's Lord Michael Ashcroft donate $1 million to the Australian Liberal Party? His spokesman says it's because he thinks "Mr Howard is a good bloke".
The amount donated by Lord Michael Ashcroft is the largest by an individual since records started being kept and well eclipses previous foreign political donations.
According to Wikpedia, Ashcroft is a former Conservative Party treasurer. He is also a wealthy businessman (54th on the Times Rich List 2005) and chairman of Carlisle Holdings Limited.

Ashcroft settled a libel action with the Times out of court after they speculated on his business affairs. Here is some detail on that:
Over the past few years he has donated £1 million annually. The contributions of Britain's fourteenth richest man amount to one tenth of the [UK Conservative] party's financial resources...

Michael Ashcroft is a Florida-based billionaire who holds both British and Belize nationality. The former British colony in Central America has served as an offshore tax haven for his business empire.

Initially the allegations made against the undue influence Ashcroft exerts on the Conservatives related to concessions extracted from the previous Tory government which were advantageous to his business dealings in Belize. This was later expanded to include possible involvement in drug trafficking and money laundering.

On July 13 the London Times published two leaked foreign office documents. The first involved a telegram written in 1997 by the British high commissioner in Belize, Gordon Barker, cautioning against the appointment of Ashcroft to the chair of the Caribbean trade advisory group. It warned that the Belize government viewed him with “deep suspicion” and remarked that rumors concerning his business deals cast a “shadow over his reputation that ought not to be ignored.”

This was followed by a 1994 report by a British foreign office adviser calling for tighter regulation of financial services in Belize and noting with some alarm that “low standards of regulation and supervision” were attracting “those seeking to conceal proceeds of drug trafficking and other serious crime.”
Read the article: the guy has been closely linked to drug trafficking!

Can we just agree that it is NOT OK to interfere with the affairs of other nations? Can we Australians agree that we do not want sleazy foreign billionaires buying favours from our elected representatives?

The Libs must send the money back or donate it to a worthwhile charity. And they should give away that $300,000 from the tobacco industry too.

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