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‘Dark money’ Scottish group fined for failing to declare huge donations to the Tories

A “DARK money” Scottish group has been fined for failing to declare hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations to the Tories.

The Scottish Unionist Association Trust (SUAT), which is based in Glasgow, has been fined £1,800 by the Electoral Commission for not declaring donations worth £318,876 to the Conservatives between April 2001 and February 2018.

As an unincorporated association, SUAT is required to formally notify the commission when it makes political contributions of more than £25,000 per calendar year.

The association was also charged with failing to report two donations it had accepted that amounted to £207,350.

After an investigation the commission concluded that SUAT had “failed to provide accurate reports on time,” though it conceded that the Tories had registered the donations properly.

The commission added that the association’s behaviour left the public without “the transparency it was entitled to have of SUAT’s finances.”

Labour MSP James Kelly said: “Hundreds of thousands of pounds of dark money has been syphoned into the Scottish Tories in recent years.

“While it is welcome to see those who broke the rules be punished, it is disappointing that the fines levied against this Tory donor group is just a fraction of the money passed on to the party.

“The Electoral Commission must take proactive action against the dark money that floods the Tories’ coffers instead of this type of reactive punishment, which consists of just minuscule fines with no real consequences.”

SUAT has accepted the findings of the commission and has paid the fines.

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