Top Tory’s Russia Lobbyists Investigated By Mueller

Tory peer Greg Barker’s Russian dirty money fiasco is going from bad to worse. First, his boss Oleg Deripaska was whacked with sanctions by the US government, with shares in Barker’s En+ then plummeting. Next, the Foreign Affairs select committee condemned the flotation of En+ on the London Stock Exchange, with MI6 and US security officials expressing concerns about the IPO. So you can see why Barker would want to hire a lobbying firm to help him fight the sanctions…

Unfortunately, the firm Barker has chosen, Mercury Public Affairs, which is charging En+ more than $100,000 a month, is the subject of two subpoenas from Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian links to the Trump campaign. The Washington Post reported:

The investigators asked Mercury for information about their public relations work at Manafort’s behest for a Brussels-based organization called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, which pushed for improved relations between Ukraine and European countries. The Brussels group primarily advanced the interests of a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party that had been a client of Manafort’s before he joined the Trump campaign.

So the firm Barker has brought in to spin for him amid allegations of links to Russia is itself being investigated for its own links to Russia. Quite a run of bad luck for Greg…

Top Tory’s Firm Implicated in Russian Dirty Money Report

Russophile former Tory minister Greg Barker’s firm EN+ has been implicated in the Foreign Affairs select committee report into dirty Russian money in London. Lord Barker’s primary role as chairman of EN+ was to give the group a veneer of respectability and to reassure the City as the Russian energy and aluminium producer listed on the London Stock Exchange last year. Then last month, Barker’s boss Oleg Deripaska was whacked with sanctions by the US government and accused of “benefiting from the Putin regime and playing a key role in advancing Russia’s malign activities”. While the FASC report says “there is no evidence of impropriety in the legal sense”, it is damning of the EN+ flotation on the LSE:

The flotation of En+ Group on the London Stock Exchange in November 2017, which raised around £1bn in share sales, provides an example of the contradictions inherent in UK Government policy towards Russia…

In February 2018, press reports emerged suggesting that both MI6 and US security officials had expressed serious concern about the IPO. One unnamed US official reportedly told the Telegraph: “What is the point of the U.S. imposing sanctions on Russia if the Russians can then get round them in Britain?”…

the ease with which such large-scale transactions occur also sends political messages that undermine the Government’s condemnation of what the Prime Minister has called the “well-established pattern of Russian state aggression”, encouraging President Putin and his associates to conclude that the money supporting that aggression is safe and welcome in London…

The use of London as a base for the corrupt assets of Kremlin-connected individuals is now clearly linked to a wider Russian strategy and has implications for our national security. Combating it should be a major UK foreign policy priority. The assets stored and laundered in London both directly and indirectly support President Putin’s campaign to subvert the international rules-based system, undermine our allies, and erode the mutually-reinforcing international networks that support UK foreign policy. The size of London’s financial markets and their importance to Russian investors gives the UK considerable leverage over the Kremlin. But turning a blind eye to London’s role in hiding the proceeds of Kremlin-connected corruption risks signalling that the UK is not serious about confronting the full spectrum of President Putin’s offensive measures.

We call on the Government to investigate the gaps in the sanctions regime that allowed a company such as En+ to float on the London Stock Exchange, and to work with the G7, whose markets dominate the financial world, and other international partners, to close those gaps as soon as possible.

Barker should be under pressure to resign over this scandal but has been let off the hook as ministers and Tory MPs have failed to criticise him. How can the Tories be claiming to take dirty Russian money in London seriously when they stayed silent as one of their own helped float a Putin crony’s company in London?

Greg Barker’s Firm Shares Plummet After Russian Oligarch Boss Sanctioned By Trump

Last month Guido reported on how Russophile former Tory minister Greg Barker was working for Oleg Deripaska as chairman of En+ Group. Well, since then Deripaska was whacked with sanctions by President Trump and accused by the US of “benefiting from the Putin regime and playing a key role in advancing Russia’s malign activities”. Bad news for Barker’s En+, whose shares plummeted 22% on Friday and fell another 17% today.

Barker is one Tory who knows sanctions against Russian wrong ‘uns work…

Tory Ex-Minister is Working for Oligarch Named as Corrupt by Russian Opposition Leader

Former Tory MP and tree-hugging Energy & Climate Change minister Greg Barker has had a difficult start to 2018. As we previously reported in November, Russophile Lord Barker of Battle’s primary role as chairman of En+ Group was to add a veneer of respectability to reassure the City as the Russian energy and aluminium producer listed on the London Stock Exchange. Once the LSE accepted the listing, Barker must have thought his main struggles were over…

Slightly concerning then that Barker’s boss, Oleg Deripaska, is now under the cosh on several fronts. At the end of January Deripaska was named on the US Treasury list of oligarchs linked to the Russian government. Deripaska owns over 70% of En+ and is also the subject of a letter to the SFO from the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, calling for an anti-corruption investigation into his affairs after he was filmed on a yacht with Sergei Prikhodko, Russia’s deputy PM. The yacht trip only added to the intrigue around Deripaska’s links to Manafort and the Trump campaign, especially with new allegations of more meetings on the US elections surfacing…

This is likely not M’lud Barker’s biggest headache. Both MI6 and officials in Washington are angry that the float went ahead, as most of the funds raised went straight to the state-owned Russian bank VTB, which is under both EU and US sanctions. Having secured a bridgehead on the LSE, En+ is rumoured to be gearing up to raise another $1 billion from investors. While happy for its oligarchs to raise money in London, Russia seems less pleased about the presence of ex-KGB officials in Salisbury. Barker, a close pal of ex-PM David Cameron, must be wondering how to salvage this one…

From Husky Hugging to Coal Mining

Greg Barker, now m’Lord Barker of Battle, Cameron’s husky hugging companion and former swivel-eyed Energy & Climate Change minister, has found a use for his experience gained in Government. Long a fan of Russian billionaires, Barker is the newly-appointed chairman of EN+, a Russian energy and aluminium conglomerate controlled by oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Barker’s first job is to bring a veneer of respectability to the energy company as it floats on the LSE. He’ll have his work cut out…

EN+’s owner is certainly close to the Kremlin: wikileaked US diplomatic cables described Deripaska as one of “the two or three oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis”, while the US still refuses to give him a visa due to his links to organised crimeDeripaska’s dealings with Manafort won’t help his cause…

More troubling are EN+’s ties to VTB Bank, the Russian lender that has been sanctioned by the US and EU since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014. As the Spectator pointed out:

EN+ says it intends to use the ‘primary proceeds’ of the share offering ‘to repay a portion of its debt’ – which is owed largely to Russian banks such as VTB (also an EN+ shareholder) that helped bail out Deripaska’s businesses with Kremlin support after the 2008 crash, and are currently subject to US and EU sanctions. So London investors’ money will be flowing back into Putin’s other-wise ostracised banking system. 

With sanctions still in place on VTB and Russia, Barker has to convince investors that this deal does not violate sanctions. He’ll have an even harder time explaining to Cameron why he’s working around sanctions his own government helped put in place…

Aside from all that, take a moment to reflect on the sheer cynicism of a husky hugging Climate Change hyping minister becoming Chairman of a coal-mining to aluminum smelting conglomerate. One Tory grandee told Guido that Barker “must be short of cash.” 

Who You Calling Swivel-Eyed?

In a Telegraph interview the drippingly wet Greg Barker when asked about the need for a change of direction following a poll giving UKIP 11% support and surveys showing 10% of Tory voters from 2010 have switched to UKIP retorted:

“We don’t need to follow UKIP into swivel-eyed rhetoric.”

As ConservativeHome notes, that is hardly the way to win back lost supporters. What struck Guido most was that Greg Barker, a screaming climate change racket fanatic, is really on dodgy ground with that line. Look into his eyes…

UPDATE: Within a minute of publishing Greg Barker sportingly tweets:



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