12.10.11

Analysis: Hedge fund tycoons bankroll Fox office as Werritty affair deepens

 

Liam Fox received large payments from hedge funds to meet his office running costs and other expenses The Guardian reported this morning.

The Guardian revealed that the beleaguered defence minister’s most generous benefactor is Australian former Goldman Sachs banker, Michael Hintze.

Hintze, who also arranged a number of international flights for Fox, is one of the UK’s most powerful hedge fund mangers with an estimated fortune of £550m. Since 2005, he has bankrolled the Conservatives to the tune of £1.5m.

But Hintze is by no means alone as a Fox funder. Among the minister’s other personal donors are hedge fund tycoon, Lord Fink, veteran private equity dealmaker, Jon Moulton and financiers, David and Simon Reuben.

News of financiers bankrolling Fox comes less than two weeks after detailed research by the Bureau revealed that hedge funds, financiers and private equity firms contributed more than a quarter of all donations to the Conservative party in the past year.

Our trawl of 450 separate donations given to Conservative Central Office by individuals, companies and limited liability partnerships revealed that 27%, or £3.3m, of the £12.18m donated to the party came from hedge funds, financiers and private equity firms.

Our findings came amid growing concerns that some parts of the financial sector, termed ‘asset strippers’ or ‘predator financiers’ by some commentators, profit from financial instability and raise questions over whether sizable donations to political parties buys influence and secures favourable treatment.

While there is no suggestion that individual donors can affect policy or win contracts, the Bureau’s story on Tory party funding and the Guardian’s scoop on Dr Fox are linked.

The defence minister’s position is growing increasingly insecure over revelations that close personal friend, Adam Werritty accompanied him on numerous foreign trips. Fox is now facing questions over whether Werritty was lobbying on behalf of businesses who may have stood to gain from decisions made by Fox.

It is understood that an ongoing Cabinet Office investigation could next week resolve some unanswered questions. But what will no doubt remain unresolved is the level of influence exerted by powerful City interests who in the past year spoke for 51.4% of Conservative party donations.

Effectively, the City majority owns the Conservative party. This at a time when the global financial system is paralysed requiring fundamental reform to serve the interests of the public – rather than the other way round as seems the case today. The question remains whether the Conservatives, while so beholden to financiers, are truly in a position to bring about such much needed reform.

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