The former Conservative Party leader has agreed to serve in an advisory capacity for a company that two sanctioned Russian oligarchs founded and own in large part. Former Tory Chairman Sir Brandon Lewis is likely to join LetterOne, an investment company that Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven founded.
During his tenure as the leader of the Tory Party in 2018, the former justice minister refused to comment on his £100,000 salary from this role.
In addition to his £86,584 pay as an MP, former Tory Chairman Sir Brandon also holds four additional posts, one of which is unpaid, according to the Members of Parliament’s register of financial interests. Altogether, these sources of income bring him an additional £150,000 every year.
He said the time commitment of his extra roles was “modest” and had been approved by Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) – parliament’s watchdog on officials taking new jobs.
Many times over, Sir Brandon has held senior cabinet positions. He pointed out that his previous ministerial duties required a lot more time from him than his current positions do. However, he also stressed that he has always served the Great Yarmouth constituency as a Member of Parliament with diligence and conscientiousness.
Supporter of former prime minister Boris Johnson, Sir Brandon will assume a senior advisory position at LetterOne, a London-based corporation that owns the Holland & Barrett retail brand. As a result of this change, he will collaborate with Lord Mervyn Davies, the chairman of the business and a former Labour Party minister under Gordon Brown. The Financial Times was the first to report on this development.
After Russia invaded Ukraine and frozen the assets of Mr. Mikhail and Mr. Aven, the London-based company had to reorganize in order to comply with UK sanctions regulations.
Notably, two of the richest people in Russia, Mr. Mikhail and Mr. Aven, still own 49 percent of LetterOne.
The EU has described Mr. Mikhail, who was born in Ukraine and lived through the fall of the Soviet Union, as a member of President Putin’s inner circle.
The co-founder of Alfa-Bank with Mr. Fridman, Pyotr Aven, has also been named by the EU as one of President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies.
The company is still illegal, but the couple’s shares are immobilized and they aren’t getting any money from them. LetterOne stated that it had earmarked “over £45 million to aid those impacted by the unlawful conflict in Ukraine.”
Sir Brandon stressed in a statement announcing his appointment that LetterOne has changed significantly since Putin’s disgusting assault on Ukraine. Now completely independent of its sanctioned founders, the company is committed to making important social investments and is among the largest corporate donors of aid to Ukraine.
Anneliese Dodds, the chair of the Labour party, said it was “totally unacceptable” for Sir Brandon to advise a firm “owned by sanctioned Russian oligarchs”.”It makes yet another mockery of Rishi Sunak’s promise of professionalism, integrity and accountability at all levels,” she said.
Lord Davies said: “The appointment of Brandon Lewis builds on the decisive changes we have been making following Russia’s illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine.”Sir Brandon brought a “wealth of experience” to LetterOne, Lord Davies said.
“Today’s appointment follows the swift, robust and decisive action we undertook to distance [LetterOne] from its sanctioned shareholders,” he added.
Lord Davies stated in a statement that LetterOne had “maintained 100,000 jobs in over 40 businesses throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.” In 2020, Sir Brandon made headlines when he took contributions from two British people who were connected to Russia. Donors Lubov Chernukhin, a former banker, and the wife of Vladimir Chernukhin, a former Russian deputy finance minister under Putin, gave him a total of £25,000.
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