Oh What a Tangled Web the Tory Party Weaves with Vitol
Privately held Vitol SA is led by its long-time CEO Ian Taylor, a Scotsman – The company is the World’s Largest Oil Trader and is one of the Tory Party’s largest financial donors, thus ensuring privileged access to David Cameron and other senior Conservative government ministers. Taylor, attended a private dinner organised by David Cameron, in Downing Street, on 2 November 2011. The event was described as a, “social dinner for strong and long-term supporters of the party, with whom the PM has a strong relationship”. In November 2013 he was invited to dinner at Chequers. In February 2014, the former Tory Energy Minister Charles Hendry MP, became a £60,000-a-year Vitol consultant.
Taylor is one of the Tory Party’s largest and most reliable donors. In the run up to the 2010 election he gave the party £125,000 and since June last year he has given the party £116,000. Overall his donations since 2006 amount to around £1m. He is also under a degree of hostile scrutiny in the referendum campaign in Scotland. His £750,00 donation towards the pro-union ‘Better Together’ and similar campaigns is subject to an increasing amount of criticism. It’s widely accepted in the trade that his act is an attempt to make sure North Sea assets don’t escape Vitol’s grasp through Scotland voting for independence.
In the period 2010-2013 Vitol completed a number of sanction, (UN imposed) busting purchases, (making use of the company’s Swiss registration) buying large stocks of Iranian fuel oil at well below market prices then selling it on the Rotterdam spot market for a premium, making a financial killing, completely undermining Western efforts to choke the flow of petro-dollars to Tehran placing pressure on Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program. The actions of Vitol side-stepping the UN approved sanctions on Iran is evidence the company is not concerned for the security of not only the West but the entire world. The UK is a vociferous critic of Tehran’s nuclear program and a leading advocate of the EU sanctions bypassed by Vitol.”
In recent weeks, Vitol has been identified to be in negotiations seeking to finance a Russian oil company targeted by US sanctions against President Putin. The US sanctions proscribe ROSNEFT from receiving new long-term loans from US banks and investors as well as targeting the company’s chief executive, Igor Sechin, who is close to President Putin. If successful Vitol will transfer $2Bn to ROSNEFT, in exchange for supplies of refined products over the next five years. The deal would boost ROSNEFT’s cash reserves and, if agreed, would help mitigate the effect of US sanctions that wiped five per cent off the its share price when they were announced last week. It is still a possible target for EU sanctions as well, although most observers believe it will be hard to get agreement among all 28 member states for such dramatic action. Mr Taylor is a director and a significant shareholder in Vitol so would be likely to benefit directly from the deal with ROSNEFT.
Igor Sechin, is a former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia and a close ally of president Vladimir Putin, ROSNEFT has undertaken a string of acquisitions which have transformed it into the world’s largest listed oil company. As well as the $55bn purchase of TNK-BP, the company has in the last year bought ITERA and SIBNEFTEGAS, two significant Russian gas producers, the gas business of ALROSA, the diamond miner, and refineries in Germany and Italy.
Talks on the ROSENEFT deal began before the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 and last night Vitol refused to say whether they were ongoing. They said, “Our client relationships are confidential,” adding that, “any conflict in which innocent civilians are caught up is tragic”. They further stated Vitol was, and would remain, “fully compliant with all applicable international laws and regulations”.
In 2013 Vitol entered into partnership with another trading firm, GLENCORE, to give another $10bn loan to ROSNEFT in return for future oil supplies. The close links between the two companies mean that the Conservative party is indirectly benefiting from profits made in collaboration with a company with intimate links to the Kremlin.
Yesterday, “The Independent” revealed that Vitol pays just 10.5 per cent tax on its global profits, which totaled nearly $15bn (£8.8bn) over the past nine years. A fraction of the standard UK tax rate for its hugely profitable London operations. Vitol achieves this by “confirming” its deals in low-tax Switzerland even if they have been negotiated in London. Google, another very large company, was only recently, very strongly criticised for operating similar tax techniques, by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee). Revelations therefore, about Vitol’s tax arrangements and business dealings in Russia will risk embarrassing David Cameron who has led calls for tighter sanctions against Moscow despite his own party’s ties with wealthy oligarchs.
The foregoing provides informative details of the, “ducking and diving” of the Tory party and Vitol. They are toying with the Scottish electorate determined upon gaining a, “no” vote in the referendum for their own ends, not to enhance the wellbeing of Scot’s. I am voting, “Yes” to independence and I encourage all who live in Scotland and have a vote to vote, “Yes” and send this lot on their way.