As published on thenational.scot, Wednesday 1 July, 2020.
THE MP parachuted in to replace Douglas Ross as Scotland Office minister complained that calls to crack down on tax avoidance were efforts to “choke the entrepreneurial spirit” while his constituency office was being bankrolled by firms with tax haven links.
Milton Keynes South MP Iain Stewart’s local Tory Party received more than £50,000 from subsidiaries of firms registered in Belize and the Virgin Islands, The Times revealed in a new investigation.
Donations came in from companies run by Belize-based investor Lord Ashcroft and former Kremlin defence minister Alexander Temerko, the newspaper reported.
The MP’s constituency has received money from Ashcroft’s Bearwood Corporate Services, Temerko’s Offshore Group Newcastle Limited, and other firms with links to offshore tax havens.
The Milton Keynes Conservative Federation received £27,000 from Bearwood when Stewart attempted to run for the seat in 2005. Milton Keynes Tories also declared that they received £8000 from two firms, Currie Motors and Alphalarch, subsidiaries of Curfin (Netherlands Antilles) BV, registered in Curacao. Stewart also listed a personal donation of £7500 from the director of British Marine Limited (the UK subsidiary of a firm registered in the Marshall Islands), Alan Bekhor.
Mhairi Black, the SNP’s shadow Scottish secretary, said: “The Tories have serious questions to answer over these political donations and the links to offshore tax havens. What was this money was for ... and exactly how far afield do his interests lie?”
The Times said there was no suggestion Stewart has breached any rule. His spokesperson said the Scotland Office minister has supported many tax avoidance measures, and that the money his office received was “legitimate donations made to the constituency association to help with election campaign expenses”.
They added: “None of the donations was made to Mr Stewart personally and they have had no influence over the way he has voted in parliament.”