Under pressure on the BBC’s Marr show this morning an uncharacteristically nervous Ken Livingstone claimed that Silveta Limited, the company he owns with his wife which is at the centre of tax avoidance allegations, funded two of his campaign staff. Such a donation would by law need to be recorded either as a cash donation or a “donation in kind” to the London Labour Party which funds Ken’s campaign. A quick check of the donation records filed with the Electoral Commission shows no record of any donation being made by Silveta Limited. Failure to comply with electoral laws on declaring donations led to Peter Hain resigning from the Cabinet and a police investigation into his deputy-leadership campaign donations. Either Ken lied to Marr or he failed to register the campaign donations from the company.
Millionaire Ken claimed previously that his huge earnings were a one off circumstance in 2010 after he lost the mayoralty and was still in demand. Companies House records released on Friday show that actually he funnelled another £238,646 through the corporation in 2011 as well. Making a total of well over half-a-million pounds earnings in just two years from media fees paid by among others LBC and Iran’s Press TV…
Given that he used Silveta Limited to invoice the Iranian government-controlled Press TV for his appearances, it would appear that Ken is admitting that his campaign to become mayor of London is in part funded by the Iranian regime in Tehran. An admission which will only add to suspicions in the London Jewish community that Ken is not to be trusted.
UPDATED: Andrew Gilligan makes a telling point which will further add to Ken’s difficulties. This morning Livingstone nervously told Andrew Marr, in a way that he clearly hoped would somewhat mitigate matters, that he had used Silveta’s bank accounts to pay a
“talented economist to sit down and spend a lot of time going over the [City Hall] books. I’ve got people handling the media. I employ at the moment two people.”
As well as the problem with those company donations not being declared to the Electoral Commission, which is a breach of the laws on campaign funding, he has almost certainly broken the laws regarding company expenses allowable against corporation tax. To be offset against tax company expenses must be “wholly, exclusively and necessarily” incurred “for the purposes of the company”. HMRC should take a very close look at Silveta Limited.