There are not many people who think their mantel would be improved by a bronze bust of British Prime Minister David Cameron, but Ukrainian oligarch Alexander Temerko appears to differ. He shelled out an eye-popping £90,000 for such a figurine at a Conservative Party fund raising auction in London in 2013. It was a small fraction of the £474,555 he has poured into the party coffers — an investment that has paid off many times over.
For he now has the ear of the Prime Minister and enjoys membership of the PM’s “inner circle” Leadership group. Co-incidentally his offshore wind energy company benefited from at least £4.5 million of taxpayers’ cash through the Department for Business’s Regional Growth Fund and, last but not least, his generosity did not hurt his application for British nationality, which was granted.
This last must have been a relief because it effectively puts him beyond reach of the Russian authorities which have been trying to get him extradited to face fraud charges over the dismantling of the oil giant Yukos. This was in the lawless Wild West atmosphere of 1990s Moscow when Temerko was at the centre of a network of what has been described as a Jewish oligarch mafia.
He was in a good place to benefit as deputy chairman of the Yukos under his friend and oligarch boss Mikhail Khodorovsky. Then Khodorkovsy fell afoul of Vladimir Putin and was imprisoned for fraud, and Temerko took over the running of the oil giant.
In 2004, however with the authorities closing in, Temerko fled to the UK. A British court rejected an extradition attempt as politically motivated. Ever since, Temerko has devoted himself to cosying up to the Conservative Party and not just on his own behalf. Bronze busts and fund raising dinners apart, Mr Temerko also allegedly exercises a discreet influence by directly supporting Members of Parliament who also happen to be supporters of Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI).
Four of Temerko’s MPs have been identified. Three of them, James Wharton, Michael Ellis and Guto Bebb can be seen departing for Israel in the picture below from the CFI website. The trip involved military briefings about Iran’s military capacity. Of particular interest is the Welsh MP Guto Bebb who has made three trips to Israel since 2011, all paid for by CFI, and has also been a guest at an AIPAC function in Washington D.C where he listened to speeches from the Israeli Prime Minister and defence minister.