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Wind farm firm that won £4.5m is a major donor to Tories  

Credit:  By Matthew Holehouse | The Telegraph | 13 August 2013 | www.telegraph.co.uk ~~

A company that builds wind farms donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Conservative Party months after being awarded a £4.5 million Government grant, official records show.

Offshore Group Newcastle (OGN) will be given money from the Business Department’s Regional Growth Fund to build a new plant to produce steel foundations for wind turbine generators.

The grant was announced by the department in October 2012. The Regional Growth Fund was at the time overseen by Mark Prisk, a Conservative minister.

Electoral Commission records show that in the eight months before the grant was announced, OGN and one of its directors, Alexander Temerko, made donations totalling £49,905 to the Conservative Party. In the year that followed the grant, Mr Temerko and his company donated a further £298,250 to the party.

A Tory source insisted the events were unconnected, saying: “The Regional Growth Fund is doing a lot of investment in the North East.”

A spokesman for the firm said all its donations are fully declared and added: “The RGF grant is totally independent from any political activities.”

Mr Temerko is a former top executive of Yukos, the Russian oil giant. Its chief, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was a political opponent of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and was jailed by a Russian court in May 2005.

Mr Temerko was allowed to stay in Britain after a judge ruled an attempt to extradite him on fraud charges was politically motivated.

In total, he has donated a total of £208,500 to the Tories, while his company has donated £139,655. Neither had donated to the party before 2012.

OGN, which also makes frames for oil and gas platforms, is owned by a parent company based in the British Virgin Islands. The spokesman said: “OGN operates as a UK company and pays taxes in accordance with UK taxation legislation”.

Mr Temerko was one of twelve Tory donors who attended private dinners with the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Home Secretary this spring after making donations of over £50,000 to the Conservative Party.

Other members of the “Leader’s Club” include John Frieda, the hairdresser, who donated £50,000 in May; and financiers James Lupton, David Harding, Michael Farmer and Neil Ostrer, who donated £694,370 between them in the last quarter.

Mr Lupton became Conservative co-Treasurer in February.

Sadiq Khan, the Labour shadow justice secretary, said that the donations to the Conservatives showed the party is out of touch with ordinary voters.

He said: “Hardworking families are seeing their living standards squeezed, with prices rising faster than wages. Meanwhile David Cameron shows how out of touch he is, standing up for the millionaires who fund his party.”

The figures also showed that Rosemary Said, the wife of Syrian-born billionaire Wafic Said, donated £100,000 to the Tories in June. Her husband, who lives in Monaco, was a key figure of the Al Yamamah arms deal between Saudi Arabia and Britain in the 1980s.

A Business Department spokesman said: “All bids to Regional Growth Fund are stringently evaluated against the objectives of creating sustainable employment, rebalancing the economy and delivering value for money, and are independently assessed by an advisory panel headed up by Lord Heseltine. BIS is absolutely committed to transparency and adherence to due process in every application for public funding.”

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “All donations to the Conservative Party are fully and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission and published on their website.”

Mr Temerko was not at his central London home last night.

Figures released by the Electoral Commission also showed that donations to Ukip doubled in the last quarter to £160,000.

Source:  By Matthew Holehouse | The Telegraph | 13 August 2013 | www.telegraph.co.uk

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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