Michael Hintze’s millions: how much political influence can money buy?
The Australian hedge fund manager, Michael Hintze, who hit the headlines last week after his donations to Dr Liam Fox were revealed, has given thousands of pounds to many other cabinet ministers.
Top of the list of Hintze’s beneficiaries is Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, who has received nearly £39,000 since 2008.
Electoral Commission records analysed by the Bureau show three separate donations from Hintze of £12,500 were donated to Osborne’s office over a period of just 11 months. An additional smaller non-cash donation was made by Hintze’s hedge fund CQS.
The former Defence Secretary Dr Fox received £20,439, over half of which was donated through CQS as recently as May 2011. The financial tycoon has also been linked to Fox’s friend Adam Werritty with reports claiming CQS provided Werritty with a desk at its London office.
Other high-profile Conservative ministers also benefited from Hintze’s generosity. Minister of State for Universities and Science David Willets received £25,000 in donations while Home Secretary Theresa May was the beneficiary of ‘hospitality’ worth £1,200 from Hintze in 2009.
The hedge fund tycoon also used his ample fortune, estimated at £550m, to support Boris Johnson before he became Mayor of London. Hintze donated £5,000 to Johnson between 2007-2008.
William Hague received over £25,000 in non-cash donations from the CQS hedge fund.
Apart from the big players of the Conservative Party, Hintze also donated to relatively low-profile MP Adam Holloway, stating in the Electoral Commission records that the purpose of the donation was ‘to establish security and political situation.’
Hintze has previously spoken of his pride in donating to the Conservative Party and has given around £1.62m since 2002, making him one of the Party’s biggest donors. All his donations are properly declared in the Electoral Commission records, and there is no suggestion that he has done anything improper.
But his donations could have bought him access to top ministers. In the past five months alone he has donated £31,000, enough to grant him membership to the exclusive Treasurers’ Group. The donor’s group, which is the second highest rung on the Tory Donor’s ladder, allows its members access to senior Conservative figures through a series of lunches, receptions and campaign launches. It is not known if Hintze took up this opportunity.
Donations were given privately and through hedge fund company CQS. The majority of donations were cash but £81,064.43 was donated through non-cash means with Hintze and his company covering travel, hospitality and advertising for MPs and the Party.
The multi-millionaire does not limit his donations to the world of politics. Hintze is known for his philanthropic work and sponsors two galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as running the Hintze Family Charitable Foundation with his wife Dorothy.
The Bureau recently revealed that over 51% of Tory party funding comes from the financial services sector. Our research found that much of the Treasury’s activity since the Tory-led party came to power has focused on offering tax reductions to the wealthiest sections of society.