Wednesday, 4 February 2015

English peer Lord Michael Ashcroft helped fund the Liberal Party's war chest to the tune of $1.5 million over the last three Australian federal elections

Sixteen days before the 2004 federal election English peer, Michael Anthony Ashcroft, the Rt Hon. the Lord Ashcroft KCMG  (left), donated $1 million to the federal arm of the Liberal Party of Australia.

Twenty-four days before the 2010 federal election this peer contributed $250,000 to that same federal political party.

Six days before the 2013 federal election he again donated $250,000 to the federal Liberal Party - this time from an address in that well-known tax haven Belize where he is said to hold dual citizenship.

Of his first sizable donation to the Liberal Party, Lord Ashcroft stated in his book Dirty Politics, Dirty Times:

The donation of Australian $1 million – £410,000 – was believed to have been the largest single political donation in the country’s history. I made it prior to the 2004 general election as a show of support for John Howard, the country’s Prime Minister and leader of the International Democratic Union. I have long been a great admirer of John and he was struggling against the Labour Party, which seemed poised to take power. In fact, in October 2004, John secured a fourth term and, if my donation helped him to victory at the polls, then I am delighted. 

One has to wonder if he feels the same way about the money he has outlaid on Tony Abbott, now that the Liberal Party Leader’s prime ministership has become a slow-motion political train wreck .


Lord Ashcroft writing about himself on his website:

After more than 40 years as an entrepreneur working in both the UK and overseas, particularly the US, I am an active investor in new companies and ideas. At various points in my business career, I have headed companies employing more than 100,000 people. Over the years, I have negotiated countless major deals, including the sale of ADT to Tyco International for more than $6.7 billion (£3.7 billion) in 1997. See my Business page for more details.
I am a lifelong supporter of the Conservative Party. In 2000, I was knighted and became a member of the House of Lords (Lord Ashcroft of Chichester, KCMG).  I served as Treasurer of the Conservative Party, under William Hague’s leadership, from 1998 to 2001. I continue to be Treasurer of the International Democrat Union.

The peer’s register of interests recorded by the U.K. Parliament:

Information found at Linked In:

Group Mayfair Limited (UK) in Australia which includes Anne Street Partners Financial Services Pty Limited, QNV Constructions Pty Limited and a number of related subsidiary companies owned by interests associated with UK businessman and philanthropist billionaire The Right Honourable Lord Ashcroft PC KCMG….
Impellam Group plc (traded on AIM Board London Stock Exchange IPEL) Group conducts business primarily in the UK and North America, with smaller operations in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and mainland Europe. The Group employs nearly 6,000 people, including 2,200 managers and consultants and more than 3,500 support services workers, across a network of 230 branch and regional offices. The Group operates more than 17 speciality brands across a broad range of staffing sectors which are complemented by businesses in the outsourced support services sector. Impellam Group is ranked 2nd largest in the UK and 12th largest in the world…..
Medacs Healthcare Group commenced operations in 1990 in the UK and is part of the listed Impellam Group, a global brand of specialist recruitment agencies…..history of service provided to Qld Health dates back to the commencement of the acquired firms.....Qld Health from 2005 to 2010 was the Group’s largest customer in terms of placement services and revenue generated in Australia. [my red bolding]

Former Chief Minister of the Northern Territory and chairman & director of a number of companies in which Lord Ashcroft’s has an interest, Shane Stone, is currently the chairman of Australian PM Tony Abbott’s Northern Australia Advisory Group.

QNV Constructions Pty Ltd currently lists residential housing projects in NSW, VIC, SA and Tasmania, with a number of completed projects in Queensland.

Lord Michael Ashcroft, KCMG PC, has been appointed Non-Executive Chairman of recruitment firm Impellam Group (IPEL: AIM), the second largest staffing firm in the UK, with immediate effect.
Impellam Group is one of Lord Ashcroft’s many business interests in the UK. According to the company’s most recent financial results, the Group achieved revenue of £612.3 million in the six months to 27 June 2014, an increase of +3.5% compared with the same period in 2013.
In 2010, his 57% holding in the Group was transferred to his children and “remoter issue”. The transfer occurred one day before a new law forcing members of the House of Lords to pay tax on their worldwide income and assets came into effect. Tax lawyer, Richard Frimston, subsequently told the BBC’s Panorama programme that Lord Ashcroft would have faced a hefty inheritance tax bill under the new legislation if he had made the change one day later. Lord Ashcroft's lawyers denied any impropriety or wrongdoing….

Excerpt from Press Complaints Commission (U.K.) ruling:

Lord Ashcroft complained to the Press Complaints Commission that an article headlined “Tory treasurer sued in US court” published in The Observer on 8 April 2001 was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code of Practice.

The complaint was rejected.

The article claimed that the complainant, the former treasurer of the Conservative Party, had, along with four other directors of a company called Tyco, been accused of making ‘false and misleading statements’ to the public and using deceptive accounting to boost the share price falsely. The piece made clear that the allegations were yet to be tested in court and that a Tyco spokesman had made clear that they were ‘totally without any foundation’. In addition, a spokesman for Lord Ashcroft was quoted denying the allegations and the article made clear that such lawsuits were common in America…..

While the Commission noted the complainant’s objection to what he saw as the staleness of the story it considered that the selection of material for publication is a matter for editorial discretion. Turning to the specific complaints of inaccuracy, the Commission noted that, while the complainant may have disputed the worth or chances of success of the legal proceedings, they were nonetheless still active as reported in the paper. There was no dispute that the complainant was a director of the company or that he had been mentioned in legal documents, some of which the Commission noted had been quoted in the piece. Regarding whether or not readers might erroneously have thought that the complainant was personally being sued in the US, the Commission highlighted the fact that it considers headlines in conjunction with the text of a piece and, examining the context of the article as a whole it did not conclude that readers would have been misled as to who was the subject of the legal action. The Commission considered that the piece made clear that the claims were untested allegations and considered that the phrase ‘corporate scandal’ would have been seen in this context. The Commission did not find any material discrepancy between the complainant’s account of the involvement of the SEC and how it was reported in the article. Given that there had been an SEC investigation and given that the company had contemporaneously restated some of its results – albeit before the conclusion of the investigation – the Commission did not consider that there was any significant inaccuracy in the article’s claim that the ‘SEC did force Tyco to redo its financial results’. The Commission noted that some of the allegations were still to be tested in court or struck out and it considered that the newspaper’s offer to report the outcome was a sensible one in the circumstances.

The Commission noted the complainant’s objections that the newspaper had initially approached his spokesman for a comment only a few hours before publication. In some cases this might be a factor that the Commission would take into account – usually if the approach was so late that somebody had no reasonable opportunity to comment on a story that, by omitting their comments, would be inaccurate or misleading in breach of the Code if published. In this case, however, the Commission noted that the article had used the comments of the complainant’s spokesman and lawyer to make the complainant’s point of view very clear. Readers could have been in no doubt that the complainant vigorously disputed the allegations. The Commission also noted that the article had explained that such lawsuits were common in America and that the company believed that lawyers were attempting to blackmail the firm. In all these circumstances the Commission could find no breach of the Code. 

The Guardian 8 April 2001:

Lord Ashcroft the Conservative Party treasurer, is being sued in the United States over his alleged role in a corporate scandal that is said to have cost shareholders millions of dollars.
The allegations will again raise awkward questions about Ashcroft's business affairs and William Hague's judgment in appointing him party treasurer.
Documents filed in the US courts - and obtained by The Observer - claim Ashcroft, along with four fellow directors of a company called Tyco International, made 'false and misleading' statements to the public and used deceptive accounting to boost falsely the firm's share price. The allegations, made by disgruntled shareholders, have yet to be tested in court.
They claim the directors have 'profited handsomely' by selling more than $242 million of shares they owned in their company.
Ashcroft, who has donated millions to the Tory party, is personally named in the lawsuit. He is accused of selling nearly 830,000 shares in the company at 'artificially inflated' prices for more than $37m.
The documents filed in the Court of New Hampshire in November allege that Ashcroft took part in a 'fraudulent scheme' to 'cover up and conceal Tyco's real business prospects and artificially to inflate the price of Tyco's stock so that it would be attractive... and to personally benefit by selling a substantial portion of their holdings'.
One claim is 'specifically, Ashcroft sold 827,400 shares of Tyco common stock at artificially inflated prices for proceeds of $37,472,947.'
Ashcroft still has almost $300m of shares in Tyco, a Bermudan-based manufacturing company which bought Ashcroft's ADT security firm in 1997 for $6 billion. It was as a result of this deal that Ashcroft became a non-executive board director of Tyco and a major shareholder of the company, whose products range from bandages to burglar alarms.
A Tyco spokesman has insisted that all the allegations - which are contained in the 56-page document lodged on behalf of Tyco shareholders - are 'totally without any foundation' and says the directors will 'vigorously defend' themselves…..

On 2 November 2007 the matter of Meran v Tyco International Ltd, Michael A Ashcroft, Mark A Belnick and Price Waterhouse Coopers LLP - and other associated matters - were finally concluded when the defendants entered into a $3.4 billion agreement which compensated all shareholders (listed from 13 December 1999 to 7 June 2006) with the exception of the defendants and certain others.

* Photograph from The Daily Mail

1 comment:

Kevin Rennie said...

Top stuff, Clarence Girl! I've been trying to nail the hidden relationship between Ashcroft and the Liberals for some time without success. You have to ask, "What's in it for him?" There would have to be more philanthropic causes to target, one would have thought.