16 of top 50 European hedge funds donate more than £6.5m to Tories

Hedge Fund

16 of the top 50 European hedge funds or their executives have donated more than £6.5m to the Conservatives, according to a new analysis of data.

All of the firms have established funds which have been based in offshore tax havens such as the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong and Jersey.

It follows the Guardian’s disclosure that a Conservative peer described David Cameron’s flagship G8 anti-tax avoidance initiative as a “purely political gesture” designed to head off European attempts to curb the City of London.

The Electoral Commission will at midday on Thursday release details of donations received by political parties during the first period of the general election campaign.

Labour have pointed to the hedge fund figures as evidence of the cosy relationship between rich financiers and David Cameron’s party.

Jon Ashworth, Labour’s shadow cabinet office minister, said: “It’s no wonder the Tories won’t take action on tax avoidance when their major donors have hedge funds which seem to be based in tax havens.

“The Tory campaign is bankrolled by big money donors from hedge funds because the Tory membership is haemorrhaging.”

The Hedge Fund Journal last year listed its top 50 hedge funds in Europe. Analysis of Electoral Commission records shows that many have given to the Tories since records began.

Hugh Sloane and George Robinson, founders of the hedge fund Sloane Robinson, have together given nearly £950,000 to the Tories. Some of their funds are based in the Cayman Islands.

Both were asked three years ago to pay back millions of pounds after a tax judge ruled against an offshore scheme they had invested in.

Speaking to the Guardian, Sloane said that Labour’s criticisms show that the party has misunderstood the hedge fund industry. “They are barking up the wrong tree. We have done nothing wrong, and we are paying taxes in the UK,” he said.

Brevan Howard’s servicing company and its Switzerland-based founder Alan Howard have both donated more than £129,000 to the Tories. In 2013, the hedge fund partnership was considered the top fund in Europe, but its fortunes have since waned.

Man Group, the world’s largest listed hedge fund firm, has had successive chief executives who have given generously to the Conservative party. Stanley – now Lord – Fink and his successor Emmanuel Roman have donated more than £100,000. Fink went on to become the party’s co-treasurer and donated millions more since leaving the firm.

Michael Hintze, one of David Cameron’s closest allies in the City, has donated more than £3.2m as an individual and through his hedge fund CQS. His traders are registered in Jersey.

Winton Capital Management is based in Hammersmith, west London, but has had funds in the British Virgin Islands, Delaware, the Cayman Islands and Ireland. The firm as well as two of its executives have given more than £600,000 to the Tories.

Michael Platt, the founder of hedge fund BlueCrest Management which is based in Jersey, has personally donated £125,000 to the Conservatives.

Paul Ruddock and David Craigen, from Lansdowne Partners which has set up funds in the Cayman Islands and Delaware, have given more than £900,000 to the Tories.

Other hedge funds partnerships which have donated to the Tories include Armajaro and Odey Asset Management. Executives from Egerton Capital, Cantab Capital and Capula have also given.

12 of the 16 hedge funds identified as Conservative donors, or with
executive Tory supporters, have at least one fund based in the Cayman

The islands in the Caribbean have become one of the world’s leading financial centres, and in particular have become a popular jurisdiction for the global hedge fund industry.

The prime minister announced in July 2013 that he had secured a commitment from the UK’s network of crown dependencies and overseas territories to consult on creating registers that would identify company owners.

A number of the UK’s tax havens subsequently announced consultations on creating centralised registers of company ownership. Most, including the Caymans, have since announced that they have no intention of introducing Cameron’s reforms.

Lord Blencathra, the former Tory home office minister David Maclean, who was ennobled in 2011, told the government of the Cayman Islands last year that the prime minister’s bid to increase transparency at offshore tax havens was an attempt to distract the G8 and EU.

A spokesman for the Alternative Investment Management Association, which represents the global hedge fund industry, said: “Hedge funds are not set up in offshore jurisdictions so that they or their investors avoid or evade tax. Rather, it is to prevent those investors effectively being taxed twice on the same income – tax neutrality.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Rajeev Syal, for theguardian.com on Thursday 16th April 2015 10.50 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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