Second 'loans for honours' row chairman quits

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The Independent Online

Andrew Rosenfeld, one of the businessmen caught up in the "loans for honours" political scandal, is to step down as chairman of the company he founded, Minerva.

The property company stressed the move was unrelated to the ongoing furore over secret loans to the Labour Party. However, Mr Rosenfeld's decision closely follows that of another tycoon enmeshed in the controversy, Rod Aldridge, who resigned as chairman of the support services giant Capita last month.

Mr Rosenfeld made a £1m loan to the Labour Party last year. Sir David Garrard, the co-founder of Minerva and its former chairman, lent Labour £2.3m last year and was nominated for a peerage.

Critics of the company have also pointed out that in 2003, Sir David donated £200,000 to Labour, months before the Government decided not to subject Minerva's plans to build a skyscraper in the City to a full inquiry. The linking of the two events has been described by the company as "ridiculous".

Mr Rosenfeld, 43, has been winding down his involvement with Minerva, which he started with Sir David in 1989 and floated in 1996. He moved from chief executive to executive chairman in March 2005, on Sir David's retirement. In September, he sold down his holding in the company from 8.5 per cent to 3.1 per cent and became non-executive chairman. Salmaan Hasan, Minerva's former banker, was brought in as chief executive last year.

Mr Rosenfeld said: "It has been my intention since my family trusts reduced their shareholding in Minerva in September that I would only serve as non-executive chairman for a limited period. My decision is the culmination of months of planning, and I am at an advanced stage in the creation of a new venture which will be incompatible with the activities of Minerva, and it is for this reason that ... I feel it appropriate to step down."