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Ashcroft donates $1 million to the Liberal Party of England #116984
02/01/06 12:40 PM
02/01/06 12:40 PM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 72,064
oregon, spr
Marty Online happy OP

Marty  Online Happy OP
THE personal donation of $1 million to the Liberal Party from contentious English lord Michael Ashcroft, a well-known aggressive tax minimiser with operations out of his old home town of Belize in Central America, was the talk of political circles yesterday. But we wonder whether the Australian Electoral Commission shouldn't send a "please explain" letter back to former party president Shane Stone or his successor Chris McDiven about the details. The AEC's register showed a neat $1 million given to the party. But did the good lord really write a cheque or make a transfer in Aussie dollars? He might have been precise and given £425,538.90 at today's rate, or $US756,688.36. Or maybe he just sent it in from Belize at $BZ1,513,376.72.,5744,18009531%5E28737,00.html

Re: Ashcroft donates $1 million to the Liberal Party of England #116985
02/01/06 01:08 PM
02/01/06 01:08 PM
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 5,546
Birdland - 1 mile north
ScubaLdy Offline
ScubaLdy  Offline
Maybe it was actually Belize money from Belize that the brother-in-law who took it to the black market to exchange . . . and oh . . . made a trip to Lebanon . . . but of coures he will be back . . . soon.

Take only pictures leave only bubbles
Re: Ashcroft donates $1 million to the Liberal Party of England #116986
02/01/06 04:37 PM
02/01/06 04:37 PM

That's the Australian Liberals, isn't it, not the British ones? He used to be Treasurer of the British Conservatives.

Re: Ashcroft donates $1 million to the Liberal Party of England #116987
02/02/06 01:28 AM
02/02/06 01:28 AM
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 2,208
san pedro, Belize
collyk Offline
collyk  Offline
Well he must be covering all angles because this was in the Times yesterday


The Times February 01, 2006

Tories pick up another million from Ashcroft
By Andrew Pierce and Rosemary Bennett

LORD ASHCROFT, the Conservatives’ most generous benefactor, has made the first £1 million donation to the party since David Cameron became leader.
The deadline was due to expire last night for the repayment to Lord Ashcroft of a £2.5 million loan to the Conservatives. But the billionaire businessman has allowed the loan to roll over and has extended it by a further £1 million.

The Tory treasurers privately regard the loan as a donation as they regard it as highly unlikely that Lord Ashcroft, the newly appointed deputy chairman in charge of the Conservatives’ marginal seats campaign, would seek repayment.

It also emerged yesterday that Lord Ashcroft had made a record A$1 million (£400,000) gift to Australia’s ruling centre-right political party.

The donation to the Australian Liberal Party in 2004 helped John Howard to secure an unprecedented fourth successive election victory.

Australia, unlike Britain, has no restriction on donations from foreign nationals or cap on the size of donations.

Lord Ashcroft said: “I helped because I like John Howard.”

The donation was criticised last night by the New Politics Network, which is campaigning for reforms in party political funding.

Peter Facey, the director, said: “Just as it is unacceptable for foreign millionaires to attempt to influence the UK political process in this way, so it is when British millionaires do the same elsewhere.”
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Re: Ashcroft donates $1 million to the Liberal Party of England #116988
02/02/06 10:50 AM
02/02/06 10:50 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 72,064
oregon, spr
Marty Online happy OP

Marty  Online Happy OP
A lord rich in influence
Controversial businessman Michael Ashcroft has a reputation for political largesse that has raised questions, writes Europe correspondent Peter Wilson
February 03, 2006

MICHAEL Ashcroft, the British political figure who made a record million-dollar donation to John Howard's Liberal Party, has set another gift-giving landmark.

The billionaire has become the first donor to make a pound stg. 1million ($2.36 million) donation to Britain's Conservative Party since the appointment of its new leader, David Cameron.

The party was due to repay a pound stg. 2.5 million loan to Lord Ashcroft this week but instead he extended the loan and increased it by another pound stg. 1million.

According to The Times, the party's officials see the loan as a donation because they do not expect Lord Ashcroft to seek repayment.

Mr Cameron, who recently appointed Lord Ashcroft as a deputy chairman of the party, has already lifted the party's morale and approval ratings since taking over in December, and Lord Ashcroft's latest show of generosity suggests the long-struggling party's improved fortunes will flow through to its finances.

The often controversial businessman has for some time been the Tories' biggest donor - at one stage he gave the party 10 per cent of his income each year and his gifts are believed to total well over pound stg. 11 million.

In the 1990s there were persistent complaints that he was making donations while based overseas as a tax exile. When he was rewarded with a seat in the House of Lords in 2000, former Tory leader Edward Heath called his peerage "a disgrace".

In Australia, his surprising generosity has sparked Opposition calls for controls on foreign donations and questions about why Lord Ashcroft would make such a large investment in Australian politics.

Shane Stone, the former president of the Liberal Party who solicited the record donation in the lead-up to the 2004 general election, told reporters that Lord Ashcroft had "very strong links" with Australia and "a long association" with the nation.

But according to Lord Ashcroft's London-based spokesman Alan Kilkenny, the 59-year-old businessman has "no particular affinity" with Australia.

He had visited the country, Mr Kilkenny said, but that was only because he was "a great globetrotter" who had been to many countries.

The donation was purely a sign of his personal admiration of his friend Mr Howard, he said.

It is not the first time Lord Ashcroft has made large political donations outside Britain.

A heavy donor to the centre-right party in Belize, the central American tax haven where he has based many of his businesses, Lord Aschroft gained so much influence there that he was appointed as Belize's ambassador to the UN.

A friend and longtime financial backer of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and her Tory leader successors John Major and William Hague, Lord Ashcroft was an early supporter of Mr Cameron's leadership campaign.

The businessman's wife, Susan Anstey, donated pound stg. 10,000 to Mr Cameron's campaign against fellow Tory David Davis for the party's leadership.

Mr Davis fell out badly with Lord Ashcroft in the 1990s. Serving as a junior foreign office minister, Mr Davis infuriated Lord Ashcroft by backing British civil servants who were critical of his low-tax arrangements in Belize. Lord Ashcroft was born in Britain but reportedly spent part of his youth in Belize, the former colony of British Honduras that has a population of just 280,000. He became a millionaire in his 20s after buying and selling a British cleaning company and built a reputation as a shrewd and hard-bargaining businessman.

He was an early and enthusiastic user of tax havens, moving his main business operations to Bermuda in 1984 and later shifting his tax domicile to Belize.

His businesses there flourished after the local centre-right party won power in 1998. The Bank of Belize, controlled by Lord Ashcroft, was reportedly granted exclusive right to set up offshore companies for US and British citizens.

He sold his Bermuda-registered security company ADT to rising US firm Tyco in 1997, also selling his Florida home to Tyco chief executive Dennis Kozlowski.

Lord Ashcroft stayed on Tyco's board for five years until a clean-out of directors after the firm was hit by one of Wall Street's most high-profile fraud scandals, which saw Kozlowski jailed for looting the firm. Lord Ashcroft had more headaches over unsubstantiated allegations that he was involved in money laundering and drug running. He accused the Blair Government and The Times of smearing him and sued the newspaper until reaching an out-of-court settlement with Rupert Murdoch, the proprietor of both The Times and The Australian, which included an apology by The Times.

His multi-million-dollar gifts helped keep the embattled Conservative Party afloat after its election loss in 1997 and a grateful Mr Hague rewarded him two years later by nominating him as a peer.

British opposition parties are virtually guaranteed seats in the House of Lords for their own political appointments but Lord Ashcroft's nomination was opposed by Prime Minister Tony Blair and rejected by the Public Honours Scrutiny Committee.

In 2000, the committee agreed to his peerage on condition that he agreed to give up his Belize ambassadorship and to return to live in Britain.

A citizen of Britain and Belize, Lord Ashcroft still bases many of his business interests in Caribbean tax havens. The row over his "offshore" donations helped spur British reforms that have made donations there more transparent than in Australia and banned most foreign donations.

Under British law, a donation of more than pound stg. 200 is only permissible if it comes from an individual who is eligible to enrol to vote in Britain, or from a company which is both registered and operating in Britain.

"Both sides of politics decided in the late 1990s that people should have a stake in the UK before influencing our politics by donating to parties," said Peter Facey, of the New Political Network, a think tank that monitors British electoral donations.

"It's for Australians to fund their own parties, not for British politicians like Lord Ashcroft.

"If a British political party received money from a foreign source like that nowadays, they would have to give it back.

"I can tell you this - an Australian who didn't live here or have business interests here would certainly not be allowed to return Lord Ashcroft's favour and donate money to a British party."

Fraser Kemp, a British Labour MP who follows Australian politics closely, claimed that Lord Ashcroft's donation was "mystifying". He said: "That is an awful lot of money even for someone like him."

Apart from his admiration of Mr Howard, one other link between Lord Ashcroft and Australia is Mr Howard's former aide Lynton Crosby, who ran the Tory campaign for last year's general election.

Mr Crosby began work in London in October 2004, a month after Lord Ashcroft's cheque arrived for the Liberal Party. Lord Ashcroft and Mr Crosby are believed to have got on well, despite Lord Ashcroft's unusually hands-on approach to being a donor.

Instead of simply handing his money over to Tory head office and letting it run the campaign, he commissioned his own polls and other initiatives, even interviewing dozens of Tory candidates himself before donating money from one of his companies directly to his favoured candidates. He gave such funds to 75per cent of the 33 Tory candidates who went on to unseat Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs.

Lord Ashcroft later absolved Mr Crosby of blame for the British election loss, saying: "Like the time it takes to change the course of a supertanker, the appointment of Lynton Crosby was too late to make a significant difference."

In November last year, Lord Ashcroft argued in an opinion piece in The Times that British political parties should be allowed to accept unlimited political gifts from anyone, including foreigners, as long as the donors were publicly disclosed.

"We should also ... require prompt notification, especially of bigger donations - within, say, seven days.

"Political parties will then have to make decisions, not based upon the legal definition of permissibility, but upon the commonsense interpretation of what would be considered acceptable to those whose votes they want to gain. Colombian drugs barons, Triads, porn kings and the Mob would, I would hope, be considered unacceptable donors.

"But if party treasurers were to decide otherwise, let us allow the media and the public to judge."

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