Now Labour demands answers from Tories on ‘dirty cash’ probe

Javad Marandi has donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Conservatives (Harry Mitchell)
Javad Marandi has donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Conservatives (Harry Mitchell)

Tory chairman Greg Hands faced a series of questions on Wednesday over the party’s links to a business tycoon connected to a “dirty money” probe.

Labour wrote to the Cabinet minister demanding answers about Javad Marandi, who has donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Conservatives.

The businessman lost a legal battle against the Standard and the BBC to remain anonymous over an international money-laundering case involving a business associate.

Neither Mr Marandi nor his businesses were investigated or parties to the proceedings, which arose out of the so-called Azerbaijani Laundromat international money-laundering scheme probed by the National Crime Agency.

A court ruling said that bank records showed Mr Marandi, who has been on a Conservative advisory board of ultra-wealthy supporters, either owned or was connected to companies involved in a “criminal enterprise” moving vast sums of illicit funds around the world and into the UK.

Mr Marandi, who donated £663,800 to the Conservative Party between 2014 and 2020, “vehemently denies any wrongdoing”, a statement issued by his representatives said.

Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds called for Mr Hands, MP for Chelsea and Fulham, to reveal more details about the links to the Conservatives of the wealthy donor, who owns London’s Conran Shop and a stake in the Anya Hindmarch handbag retailer. They include:

  • What due diligence was carried out on his donations?

  • What access was Mr Marandi granted as part of an “advisory board’?

  • Who has he met with at the top of the Conservative Party and what was discussed?

  • When was the Conservative Party informed that Mr Marandi was a “person of importance” in the NCA’s case?

  • Will the Conservative Party return his donations?

In her letter, Ms Dodds said: “You do not need me to remind you of the Prime Minister’s promise on the steps of No10 of ‘integrity, professionalism and accountability at all levels’. I hope you and the Prime Minister will not remain silent about these important issues.”

Home Office minister Chris Philp told the Commons yesterday that the Government is committed to making sure there is no “dirty money” in the UK. Mr Philp also defended safeguards over political donations. “UK electoral law sets out a stringent regime of donation controls to ensure that only those with a legitimate interest can make donations,” he told MPs.

A Conservative source questioned whether Labour was suggesting political parties should have access to NCA files.

But Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge told Parliament: “There is an investigation into the Azerbaijani Laundromat. A total of $2.9 billion was stolen. It was laundered through UK companies and used to bribe politicians and line the pockets of the corrupt Azerbaijani elite, and Javad Marandi is linked with it. Now we hear that he the Tory party, got an OBE and access to Government ministers. We should take these allegations very seriously. If they are true, dirty money has well and truly crept into our politics.”

In a judgment last year, Mr Marandi was described by a judge as a “person of importance” in a case which led to forfeiture of £5.6 million from the London bank accounts of members of the family of Azeri oligarch Javanshir Feyziyev, a business associate of the Tory donor. Mr Marandi’s representatives said “at no point” has he been investigated and no case has ever been brought against him.