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British MPs question links between Brexiteer with Maltese passport and Russia

Conservative British MP claims billionaire who founded an influential pro-Brexit thinktank worked for Russian intelligence services

Christopher Chandler

British MPs have demanded further investigations into whether Christopher Chandler, a billionaire behind pro-Brexit thinktank Legatum who has obtained a Maltese passport, is the beneficiary of Russian “bad money” and whether there is any link between Henley and Partners and Cambridge Analytica.

In a House of Commons debate on an anti-money laundering law held on Tuesday, a British MP claimed that Christopher Chandler was suspected of working for Russian intelligence services.

In a speech made in the House of Commons under parliamentary privilege, Conservative MP Bob Seely said Chandler had been an “object of interest” to French intelligence.

Chandler, who founded the Legatum thinktank, rejected the claim as “complete nonsense” and according to the Guardian, Legatum Institute said that Chandler “has never been associated directly or indirectly with Russian intelligence or the Russian state”.

Seely said that he and four other MPs had seen documents from Monaco’s security department which were authenticated by French, British and US intelligence services.

The files dated from 2005, cover a period from the mid-1990s, Seely said, adding that the French DST intelligence agency described Chandler and his brother Richard as “an object of interest” since 2002 on suspicion of working for Russian intelligence services.

Seely said that that if Chandler is vulnerable to “malign influence” it is a concern for British democracy.

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, who in November 2017 had asked the UK Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee to examine Chandler, said this revelation “combined with the growing concerns about corruption, money laundering and the sale of passports in Malta where Chandler has just acquired citizenship demand urgent investigations by the UK authorities now.”

In the same debate, Labour MP Liam Byrne said the French intelligence report noted that the Chandler brothers “play an important role in the capital of the companies Lukoil and Gazprom (linked to longstanding Russian figures who could be linked to organised crime). Furthermore they retain relations with an individual, a Chechen mafia figure, who was expelled from Monaco. They are connected with money laundering.”

In 2017, the Mail on Sunday claimed that Chandler funded Legatum Institute after making a fortune in Russia and he helped Vladimir Putin’s associates take control of the energy giant Gazprom.

The newspaper had also claimed that Legatum’s economics director, Shanker Singham, had met British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and fellow cabinet member Michael Gove, and had coordinated a letter written by them to Theresa May demanding a hard Brexit.

Byrne also noted that both Chandler and Legatum’s chief executive Mark Stoleson acquired Maltese citizenship through Henley and Partners and both held accounts at Pilatus Bank.

In another intervention, Bradshaw asked his colleague whether he was aware of any links between Henley and Partners and Cambridge Analytica “that have been allegedly involved in helping with political campaigns including that of the recently elected government in Malta”.

In his reply, Byrne said “these are very real and very serious allegations and yet when I put down questions to the Treasury about whether they were exploring the Maltese golden visa route and the access to the European banking system that it gives and access to the Schengen area that it gives they said that there were no such conversations underway.”

British political magazine The Spectator had linked the two companies and according to an article entitled ‘Revealed: Cambridge Analytica and the passport king’ Alexander Nix, the suspended CEO of Cambridge Analytica and the chairman of Henley and Partners, Christian Kalin collaborated in a number of electoral campaigns in the Caribbean.

The magazine said it has seen documents that offer “startling insights” into Kalin’s activities and his links to Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL Group).

In his concluding remarks, Byrne added that he would like to know more about the Chandler brothers and whether they are beneficiaries of money derived from “bad sources” and whether the money derived from Russia.

Stoleson, the chief executive of the Legatum Group, is suing The Shift News for an article that revealed he had an account at Pilatus Bank, together with Chandler. The two men said the accounts were used for the sole purpose of buying a Maltese passport.

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