A Tory donor that gave the party £44,950 is linked to a deal for Siberian goldmines presented to Brexit bankroller Arron Banks by the Russian ambassador.
Newly disclosed emails reveal that the Russian ambassador the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, suggested that millionaire Brexit donor Arron Banks meet mining magnate Peter Hambro about an opportunity to invest in “six Russian goldmines in Siberia”.
But as well as raising further questions about the source of Banks’ wealth, the news will ramp up pressure on the Conservatives over Russia-linked donations to the party.
Hambro has donated £44,950 to the Conservatives since 2006. The Eton-educated businessman made his fortune investing in Russia, primarily from the Petropavlovsk gold mining company he founded in 1994.
The Sunday Times reported in March that the Conservative Party has received more than £3 million from “Russian-linked tycoons and their companies, as well as from lobbyists for Moscow”. The figure includes £820,000 paid to the party since Theresa May became Prime Minister, in an apparent breach of her promise she would not have a “business as usual” relationship with Russia.
Labour figures have criticised the Tories for accepting the money, and Marina Litvinenko, the widow of former Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko, has called on the party to hand the donations back.
The Conservatives have continued to accept Russia-linked donations despite these calls, most recently taking another £112,500 from Lubov Chernukhin, the wife of Vladimir Putin’s former finance minister.