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Simon Hart among MPs who got money from Pandora Papers company

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  • Simon Hart among MPs who got money from Pandora Papers company
  • Alleged dirty money funding Conservative Party
  • Sources of donors’ unexplained wealth are revealed

A LOCAL MP is one of 34 Conservative MPs who received financial support from a company named in the Pandora Papers as connected to a web of international fraud and tax dodging.

Simon Hart, MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire and the Secretary of State for Wales, disclosed contributions from Aquind Ltd and an individual associated with Aquind, Alexander Temeko, in his register of interests.


In the twelve months before 2019’s General Election, Mr Hart declared he received a total of almost £25,000 from Aquind Ltd and its public face in the UK, Mr Temerko.


Although there is no wrongdoing alleged on Mr Hart’s part, we asked for his personal views on whether the current rules governing donations to political parties were robust enough.
He did not reply.


However, the Pandora Papers’ publication highlights the seamier side of some Soviet-born emigres who’ve supported the Conservatives.

A PIPELINE OF CASH

Aquind has donated more than £365,000 to the Conservative Party in recent years, despite never generating a penny in turnover.


Its former parent company donated almost £500,000 to the Conservative Party between 2012 and 2015.
Mr Termerko is alleged to have made further personal donations totalling around £700,000 to the Conservatives.
Aquind is behind a cross-channel energy and fibre optic infrastructure project valued at £1.24bn.
The Pandora Papers reveal that Aquind’s ultimate owner is Viktor Fedotov.


Both Mr Fedotov and Mr Temerko were closely linked to the former Russian Government under Boris Yeltsin, now widely acknowledged as institutionally and fundamentally corrupt.


Mr Temerko was a member of the defence ministry under former Russian premier Boris Yeltsin dealing with armaments. He later became Vice-President of the Russian oil giant Yukos.


Mr Fedotov is named in the Pandora Papers among individuals who allegedly made their fortunes through a massive contract fraud against the Russian state oil pipeline monopoly Transneft.


One claim puts the total involved in the alleged fraud as US$4bn.


The term ‘kleptocracy’ is often applied to how those linked with Yeltsin’s government managed to enrich themselves at the public expense.


Mr Temerko and Mr Fedotov strongly deny any allegations levelled against them about any involvement in alleged wrongdoing that might be connected to the source of their prodigious personal wealth.

THE BANKER’S MILLIONS

A further prominent Russian-born Conservative donor, Lubov Chernukhin, has donated around £1.8m to the Conservatives. Her husband, Vladimir, is a former finance minister in Vladimir Putin’s government and former head of the Russian National Bank.


Allegations, denied by Mr Chernukhin, claim he massively enriched himself by exploiting his position and links to power.


The Chernukhins have built up a significant property portfolio in the UK using a network of offshore trusts and opaque corporate structures that provided no clue about their fortunes’ origins until the Pandora Papers’ publication.

The stench of back-scratching cronyism surrounding Westminster’s handling of procurement processes during the pandemic – something the UK’s courts are examining in detail – adds to the pervading sense that there’s something rotten at the heart of British politics.


Whether as the beneficiaries of money allegedly obtained through massive corruption, the Conservatives want to address that situation is another matter altogether.

Although the Party has brushed aside concerns about the size of the donations it’s received from those allegedly connected to graft and corruption elsewhere, the Prime Minister’s blasé observation that the last Labour Government brought in the current rules (there hasn’t been a Labour Government for over eleven years, Prime Minister), does little to reassure.


As long as the gravy train runs, Mr Johnson seems eager to continue to feed on it.

Community

Appointment of new canons to St Davids Cathedral

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THE DEAN of St Davids has expressed delight that the Bishop of St Davids has appointed four new Canons for the Cathedral.

The Very Revd Dr Sarah Rowland Jones said, ‘I am so pleased to welcome the Revd Gareth Reid, the Revd Julian Smith and the Revd Marcus Zipperlen as Canons and members of Dean and Chapter, together with the Revd Richard Davies as Honorary Canon. They bring a considerable breadth and depth of long experience that will contribute greatly to the life of the Cathedral and its wider family.’

The Revd Gareth Reid is no stranger to the Cathedral. After growing up and attending university in Aberystwyth, then working with the Salvation Army in Swansea prison, he pursued theological training. Following his ordination in 2010, his first role was as Assistant Curate in the Cathedral and the wider group of churches that then formed the Rectorial Benefice of Dewisland. In 2013 he moved with his wife Abby and daughters Sophie and Elizabeth to Llandysul. ‘It is wonderful to be able to accept the invitation to renew my link with the Cathedral, now as a Canon’ said Gareth.  

The Revd Julian Smith was ordained in 1993, and has spent all his ministry in the Diocese of St Davids, in the Archdeaconry of Cardigan. For twenty-seven of those years, he has served churches in and around Llanrhystud. He and his wife Deborah, a domiciliary care worker, have three children, Daniel an organist, Nick a tuba player and waiter, and Edith a singer and dancer on the high seas! Responding to his appointment, Julian said ‘I felt honoured to be asked by the Bishop to be a Canon of St Davids Cathedral, and am very much looking forward to this new adventure.’

Originally from Bexhill on the south coast of England, the Revd Marcus Zipperlen moved to Wales nineteen years ago to work at the Centre for Alternative Technology, running their Biology Department and teaching sustainable water treatment and sanitation, following a degree in Environmental Science. Ordained in 2013, he now lives in Llangwm with his wife Polly, a nurse, and their two teenage boys, Sonny and Malachy. In their spare time he and Polly row Celtic longboats from Neyland and run occasional distance events. Marcus looks after four mostly rural parishes south of Haverfordwest, and is also the Sustainability Officer for the Diocese. ‘I feel blessed to be able to be able to weave both my “callings” together: ministry to people and caring for the Earth’ he said, adding ‘I hope these may be of benefit to the Cathedral, as I serve as a member of Chapter.’

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Charity

Thousands enjoy RNLI Lifeboat Festival at Pembroke Castle

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ON Father’s Day (Jun 16), more than 1,650 people descended on Pembroke Castle for a day of family fun at to mark 200 years of saving lives at sea for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

The medieval venue played host to the RNLI’s Lifeboat Festival and opened its gates for the public to meet local lifesavers and have fun while learning how to stay safe in the water with the RNLI Water Safety team.

Revellers enjoyed live music from Goodwick Brass Band, Henry Tudor School (Ysgol Harri Tudur) who showcased highlights from their upcoming performance of Peter Pan, Pembroke and District Male Voice Choir, shanty band Cockles and Mussels, Tenby Male Voice Choir, folk rockers Razor Bill, and Calico Jack.

The RNLI has been saving lives at sea for more than 200 years, in which time its volunteer lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved 146,452 lives – this equates to an average of two lives saved every day for 200 years.

The charity was founded in a London tavern on 4 March 1824 following an appeal from Sir William Hillary, who lived on the Isle of Man and witnessed many shipwrecks, the RNLI has continued saving lives at sea throughout the tests of its history, including tragic disasters, funding challenges and two World Wars.

Two centuries have seen vast developments in the lifeboats and kit used by the charity’s lifesavers – from the early oar-powered vessels to today’s technology-packed boats, which are now built in-house by the charity; and from the rudimentary cork lifejackets of the 1850s to the full protective kit each crew member is now issued with.

The RNLI’s lifesaving reach and remit has also developed over the course of 200 years. Today, it operates 238 lifeboat stations, including four on the River Thames, and has seasonal lifeguards on over 240 lifeguarded beaches around the UK and Ireland. It designs and builds its own lifeboats and runs domestic and international water safety programmes.

While much has changed in 200 years, two things have remained the same – the charity’s dependence on volunteers, who give their time and commitment to save others, and the voluntary contributions from the public which have funded the service for the past two centuries.

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Community

Renewed partnership safeguards access and conservation at Castlemartin

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A NEW agreement has been made to provide continued funding for a Ranger Service on the Military Ranges of South Pembrokeshire.

Senior leaders and staff from Natural Resources Wales (NRW), the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority met recently at the Castlemartin Range to renew their longstanding partnership, which ensures safe and sustainable access and recreational opportunities for the public, while safeguarding the area’s unique and rare wildlife which thrives alongside military training.

Those attending the meeting, which was hosted by Lt Col Richard Pope and Major John Poole, were able to experience this for themselves at Stack Rocks, where the colonies of razorbills and guillemots are gathering at the start of the breeding season.

Current Castlemartin Ranger, Lynne Houlston, explains: “This role is not only vital in ensuring that the area remains accessible to the public when military use allows, but also that the many rare and special plants, birds and animals of the Range are safeguarded.”

These include chough, marsh fritillary butterflies, grey seals, green winged orchids and spectacular colonies of seabirds, especially during the breeding season.

Part of Lynne’s role is to ensure that people can visit and use the Ranges for activities like climbing while ensuring that they do not disturb the nesting sites of these protected species.

Clare Pillman, Chief Executive of NRW said: “Working with our partners to ensure this role and partnership agreement continues is so important to us at Natural Resources Wales. The conservation of the many special species found at Castlemartin Range is vital to ensure their sustainability in the future. The Ranger role enables this to happen alongside allowing visitors to enjoy the beautiful landscape for recreational purposes, which has benefits for wellbeing and allows nature and people to thrive together.”

Chief Executive of the Park Authority, Tegryn Jones, said: “We are delighted to welcome the renewal of this important partnership. The Castlemartin Range offers some of the most dramatic coastal scenery in Wales, and it’s vital that we ensure this can be enjoyed by visitors in a way that protects its special wildlife. The Ranger plays a crucial role in achieving this balance, and this renewed commitment will ensure that the Castlemartin Range can continue to be a place where people and nature thrive.”

DIO Principal Environmental Manager, Richard Brooks said: “DIO is delighted to be joining NRW and PCNPA in signing the next iteration of this important partnership. Lynne has been in post for 21 years and, supported by a Seasonal Ranger, has clearly demonstrated the key benefits of this joint funded Ranger Service. The role plays a key part in the successful integration of public access, wildlife management and monitoring and military training and activity”.

Several guided walks taking in the history, wildlife and archaeology of the Castlemartin Range are planned for the summer months. To find out more and book a place, visit www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/events.

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