Conservatives under pressure over donor linked to a Russian oligarch sanctioned by the UK, US and EU
- A major Conservative donor was the director of a company secretly owned by a sanctioned oligarch, the BBC reported.
- Lubov Chernukhin has given £1.94 million to the Conservatives since 2007.
Labour is heaping fresh pressure on the Conservatives, after it emerged that a major party donor was the director of a firm secretly owned by a Russian oligarch described as being in Putin's "inner circle".
Lubov Chernukhin, who has donated £1.94 million to the Tories since 2007, is named in documents seen by the BBC that the organisation says show she was the director of an offshore company secretly owned by Suleiman Kerimov.
Kerimov has been sanctioned in the US since 2018, and by the UK and EU since March 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The EU described Kerimov as being part of Putin's "inner circle of oligarchs".
According to the BBC Kerimov was the ultimate owner of a firm that had acquired a large property in London. A document from the Pandora Papers dated 2006, and seen by the broadcaster, shows a signature belonging to Lubov Golubeva, Chernukhin's maiden name prior to her 2007 marriage to Vladimir Chernukhin.
Chernukhin appears on the 2006 document confirming her resignation from Radlett Estates Limited, whose sole shareholder is a Swiss firm, Swiru Holding AG, the BBC reported. Swiru Holding AG has as a director a Swiss businessman, Alexander Studhalter, who is accused of being a proxy for Kerimov.
Kerimov and his wife do not appear as directors of any of the relevant firms, but an architect's website refers to a "Mr and Mrs K" as the client of a significant redesign of the property.
Lawyers for the Chernukhins told the BBC that she "does not recall consenting in writing to being a director" of Radlett Estates, and suggested it was possible the document had been forged or manipulated. Lubov Chernukhin holds British citizenship and is legally entitled to donate to the Conservatives.
—Stewart McDonald MP (@StewartMcDonald) May 1, 2019
Lawyers for Kerimov told the BBC he had no dealings with Chernukhin.
Anneliese Dodds, chair of the Labour Party, told Insider the donations raise "further serious questions about the donations accepted from Ms Chernukhin over the past fifteen years."
In a letter to the Conservative Party chairman, Oliver Dowden, Dodds said the party should explain its connection with Chernukhin.
She added: "What checks have been carried out to make sure any donations received from Russian-linked donors have not originated from anyone now sanctioned by the government?"
Dodds also questioned if British security services have ever raised concerns about Russian-linked donors to the Conservative Party.
Chernukhin, as a major donor to the party, is part of the Leader's Group of donors for those who give more than £50,000 a year.
She is also part of the elite "advisory board" for donors who have given more than £250,000, the Sunday Times reported, granted privileged access to the prime minister and others at the top of government.
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