As if we were short of case studies in respect of the car crash that is big money and politics, along comes billionaire donor Richard Caring — whose largesse has been directed towards both the Tories and Labour.
With the Guardian publishing details of massive tax evasion and avoidance facilitated by HSBC’s Swiss arm, Caring is revealed to have turned up to a Geneva branch (with a bodyguard in tow) to withdraw the equivalent of £2.25 million — in cash and without telling them where it was going. He insists it’s all above board.
This incident reportedly occurred in September 2005, some nine months before he extended the Labour Party a loan of some £2 million — and which Electoral Commission records show is still outstanding, currently accruing interest of 6.5%.
Caring was recently revealed to be the owner of ‘Blair Force One’ — a £30m Bombardier Global Express Jet which has been used by Tony Blair to criss-cross the globe.
But despite extant financial ties with the red team, Caring has actually switched allegiance to the Tories, to whom he has given some £222,000 in cash and non-cash donations since March 2010:
Memorably giving a $1m donation to Bill Clinton’s foundation on the condition that the former US president turned up to his charity ball in fancy dress, he obviously loves a good party — and looks to have provided £140,000 in “auction prizes” for Conservative Party fundraising dinners.
So will this feat of generosity he has repeated for tonight’s £500-a-head Black & White Election Fundraiser?
UPDATE: Labour Party get in touch to point out they’ve paid down most of the loan from Caring and expect not to owe him a penny by the end of the year — which is just as well given the 6.5% interest rate.