“A sensational 2009 documentary, Lords, Billionaires And The Russia Connection… laid bare, for the first time, how very rich (and often highly dubious) Russian oligarchs had begun to use extreme wealth to buy political influence on these shores.The Daily Mail's Ben Laurance had previously informed us thus:
Its revelations were deeply embarrassing for, among others, two well-known Tory Party grandees: the former Foreign Secretary, Lord Hurd, and Margaret Thatcher’s old foreign policy adviser, Lord (Charles) Powell…
Five years after the Dispatches programme first lifted the lid on the phenomenon, it seems the Russians are no longer at the gates. Instead, they have successfully bought comprehensive access to our corridors of power.
An investigation of company reports and Parliamentary records today reveals that the programme’s direst warnings have been realised: a host of MPs, Lords, and even members of the Royal Family are now on the payroll of Russian oligarchs.”
"... recruited by Russian billionaire oligarch Mikhail Fridman, former foreign secretary Douglas Hurd, Sir Francis Richards who used to head GCHQ, Peter Watson who had the ear of both George Bush senior and Bill Clinton, plus Sir Julian Horn-Smith who was a leading figure in Vodafone and Kurt Hellstrom, who headed telecoms hardware giant Ericsson, all sit on the 'international advisory board' of Fridman's telecoms group Altimo.
Another part of Fridman's empire, Alfa Capital Partners, boasts as one of its luminaries Lord Powell of Bayswater who, as plain Charles Powell, was a foreign affairs and defence to the Thatcher and Major governments.
Now, this clutch of worthies find themselves fronting for a business empire that:
Has been castigated by a judge for trying to wriggle out of its legal obligations putting a number of its businesses in contempt of court.
Has distributed fake documents as part of a campaign against one of its business rivals; had the documents been genuine, they would have dealt a devastating blow to the reputation of Altimo's opponent.
Played a key role in the bitter dispute with Britain's BP earlier this year, a dispute so ferocious that BP's man in Moscow chose to go into hiding because he feared that his every conversation and phone call was being bugged.It will not, Ben.
And now, the saga has taken a further, curious twist.
The Daily Mail has obtained a recording and transcript of what appears to be a speech by one of Fridman's key lieutenants.
According to the transcript, the blue-bloods who sit as 'international advisers' to Russian companies are being used as little more than window dressing. They need know little or nothing about the business they represent - BUT CAN BE USEFUL IN DIVERTING THE MEDIA'S ATTENTION FROM A RUSSIAN COMPANY'S 'BANDIT' ORIGINS. The eminently respectable figures who give their imprimatur to big Russian businesses are effectively 'selling their name'...
Outrageous? Maybe. But will it be enough to put off the establishment figures who are still giving Fridman their seal of approval?"
You see, as your fellow sleuth at the Mail points out in Lords, Billionaires And The Russia Connection, as of 24 July 2014 said 'establishment figures' were still signing up to approve the various 'bandit' types alongside 'a host of MPs, Lords, and even members of the Royal Family!'
Forthcoming names: 'a host of MPs, Lords, and even members of the Royal Family.'
As for Fridman and the rest of the bandits who bled Russia white during that country's particularly nasty variation on the privatisation scam, when we take our country back, they will be obliged to fork out for a one way ticket to anywhere-else-but-here land.
The tickets will not come cheap.