The British Labor opposition party has called on Boris Johnson’s Conservatives to return gifts from one of his most generous donors after new allegations linked him to a corruption scandal.
Labor Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds said it was “really worrying” that the Tory party had accepted hundreds of thousands of pounds from businessman Mohamed Amersi.
On Monday, the BBC and The Guardian reported that Amersi was involved in a scandal in which bribes were paid to the daughter of the late dictator of Uzbekistan.
Amersi rejected in a statement “any suggestions of violation”.
The Kenyan-born businessman and his partner have given Johnson’s party more than £ 750,000 since 2018. He also attends the group’s leading group of major donors and has tried to influence his foreign strategy by founding a new group that the can handle relations of the conservatives. with the Middle East.
“This is not the first time Mohamed Amersi has been embroiled in controversy,” Dodds said. “The Conservatives must return and clean up the money he gave them, who will still have exclusive access to the prime minister and chancellor in exchange for cash.”
Johnson told reporters on Monday that ‘all these donations are being assessed in a normal way in accordance with the rules set by a Labor government. So we vet them all the time. ”
In 2010, Telia, the Swedish telecommunications company, paid $ 220 million to a Gibraltar shell company, in what it admitted in a 2017 settlement with US authorities was a bribe to Gulnara Karimova to continue doing business in Uzbekistan.
The payment was the second part of a complex transaction in which Telia gave Karimova shares in its Uzbek mobile network plus $ 30 million in 2007. Later in 2010, Telia bought back most of the shares with the transaction.
Amersi advised Telia on the 2010 deal, reports the BBC and The Guardian, part of its lucrative work for the Swedish company over six years to 2013. According to reports, he was paid a total of $ 65 million.
The reports from the BBC and Guardian are based on documents leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
A report by a law firm commissioned by Telia in 2013 alleges that some of the money the company paid a consultant, allegedly identified as Amersi, may have been used for ‘improper regulatory benefits’. obtain and / or give the go-ahead for the regulation of transactional benefits, ”according to the BBC and The Guardian.
‘I categorically reject all suggestions of misconduct in my work as an M&A consultant. Extensive investigations have been conducted by various government authorities in Telia and no allegations of misconduct or crime have ever been made against me. My work as an adviser has always been carried out appropriately and legally, ”said Amersi.
Its press representatives added that Amersi “never knowingly facilitated corrupt transactions to bribes” and said that its involvement in the 2010 transaction was “strictly limited to advice on the technical M&A aspects of the agreement: the terms and structure”. of the agreement and the validation of the analysis on the valuation of the shares ”.
They said he did not know Karimova was behind the Gibraltar entity, and relied on Telia’s control of the company.
“While Amersi was no longer formally appointed to Telia in September 2013, he maintained a good relationship with them for many years and provided informal advice on numerous issues to Telia’s CEO and others,” the statement said.
Karimova, who is in prison in Uzbekistan and also charged in the US, has always denied that he did anything wrong.
Amersi is no stranger to political controversy, after claiming in July that the Conservatives were running an ‘access capitalism’ scheme for donors, saying: ‘You get access, you get invitations, you get privileged relationships, if you share is from the set -up. “
The revelations of the Pandora papers show that Amersi is promoting Telia’s business interests in outposts of the former Soviet Union – interests that the company later acknowledged were secured by bribery.
But Amersi also benefits from a connection with President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin.
The Financial Times revealed in July that Amersi had earned $ 4 million in 2005 to help with a Russian telecommunications deal.
The payment comes from a Luxembourg company that was later secretly found by a Swiss arbitration tribunal by Leonid Reiman, then telecommunications minister in Putin’s regime. Three people with knowledge of the case told the FT Amersi understood that his secret business partner was Reiman. Amersi denies this.
The revelations of the FT have caused discomfort to some in the Tory party over the role of co-chair Ben Elliot, Johnson’s main collection. Amersi is a longtime customer of Elliot’s Quintessentially Service for the Rich. In 2013, Elliot arranged for Amersi to meet Prince Charles, who is married to Elliott’s aunt, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
According to Amersi, it was Elliot who first recruited him as a Tory donor. Elliot then intervened in a party dispute involving Amersi without disclosing their commercial relationship, which causes allegations that he blurs the line between his political position and his business activities.
After the FT reported that Elliot again did not disclose the relationship when he discussed Amersi’s plans for a role in Tory relations with the Middle East with two ambassadors from the region, Labor Johnson requested that Elliot be fired.