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THE TORIES have “serious questions to answer” over lavish donations to the party by the wife of a former Putin associate, Labour said today.
The Conservatives received £4.7 million in donations in the first three months of 2018, more than three times the £1.49m pulled in by Labour between January 1 and March 31, data from the Electoral Commission has revealed.
But £100,000 of the Tories’ total came from Lubov Chernukhin, whose husband Vladimir was Russia’s deputy finance minister during Vladimir Putin’s first term as president, before settling in London in 2006.
Ms Chernukhin has now donated over £620,000 to the Tories since June 2012, including a payment of £160,000 in July 2014 to play tennis with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and £30,000 this February to have dinner with Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.
She also tried to donate £10,000 to the party in April 2012, but was deemed an “impermissible donor” by the Electoral Commission.
Shadow Cabinet Office minister John Trickett called on Theresa May to “explain what checks have taken place, and why her party has accepted money from individuals with links to Putin’s regime, despite her promises.”
He said: “Russia-related donations to the Tory Party is the gift that keeps on giving, but there are serious questions to ask.
“Despite repeated promises that the Prime Minister doesn’t want ‘business as usual’ with Russia, the Conservatives have accepted another £100,000 from the wife of a former minister in Putin’s government.”
He added that, after Mr Johnson was “forced to admit” playing tennis with Ms Chernukhin in the aftermath of the alleged attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March, the Foreign Secretary had “promised that checks on such donations would take place.”
A Tory spokesman told the Star: “All donations to the Conservative
Party are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission, published by them and comply fully with the law.”
The Tories also accepted £500,000 from Mayfair art gallery director Ehud Sheleg, who has contributed more than £1m to the party in the last year and is tipped to be its next treasurer.
Former Tory co-treasurer Peter Cruddas, who was forced to resign in 2012 after being caught in an undercover sting offering access to prime minister David Cameron for up to £250,000, also gave £114,500 to the Conservatives.
The party also received £12,500 from Crescent Petroleum chief executive Abdul-Majid Jafar, who has donated just under £400,000 to the Tories in the last eight years, and £21,000 from Amjad Bseisu, the boss of oil exploration company EnQuest, who has given £320,000 in the last five years.
Long-standing donor Alexander Temerko — who has given the Tories and their MPs more than £650,000 in the past eight years — contributed £53,000, and former Vitol chief executive Ian Taylor donated £50,000, meaning he has given more than £1.3m in seven years.
Ms May’s party has received more than £500,000 from senior oil executives since she took power in July 2016.
Meanwhile, Broadland Properties, chaired by Yorkshire-based property mogul John Guthrie — said to be worth £281m — coughed up £50,000 and billionaire businessman Michael Hintze threw in £5,000.
The Electoral Commission said the total reported to it by all parties amounted to £6.9m, £2.4m lower than donations accepted in the same period in 2017, despite the reporting period ending just weeks before the May 3 local elections in England, and last year’s period preceding the April announcement of the snap general election.
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