A former Tory energy minister has accepted a lucrative second job from a controversial oil firm with links to the regime of Vladimir Putin.
Charles Hendry, who worked in David Cameron’s administration until 2012, is being paid £60,000 a year as a “consultant” to Vitol, a massive oil trader which has a long-term supply contract with Rosneft, the Russian state-owned energy giant.
The job will earn the MP for Wealdon almost as much as his parliamentary salary despite taking him just one-and-a-half days a month.
The role has been cleared by the Office of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, the Westminster watchdog that polices former ministers’ outside interests.
Mr Hendry told the committee he had had “some contact” with Vitol during his time as Conservative energy minister.
It is not the first time Mr Hendry has prompted headlines about his commercial interests since stepping down from Government.
Last year, it emerged that he had signed a bilateral energy agreement to import electricity from Iceland when in office – before leaving and accepting an £18,000-a-year job working for Atlantic Supergrid Corporation, which is controlled by Conservative donor Edmund Truell and which is planning to import energy from Iceland.
Tamasin Cave of the lobbying group Spinwatch said of his post at Vitol: “Given the current geopolitical climate [in Crimea] this job is extremely ill-timed and highly inappropriate.”
In the updated register of members’ interests, Mr Hendry has disclosed that he has accepted the £60,000-a-year post as a “consultant to Vitol Group, an energy trading and service company”.
Last year Vitol went into partnership with Glencore, another energy giant, to lend Rosneft $10bn. Igor Sechin, a former deputy prime minister of Russia and a close ally of President Putin, is the company’s chief executive.
Mr Hendry told The Independent: “My involvement with Vitol has primarily been on UK and EU energy issues and I am completely satisfied there is no conflict of interests between anything I have, or might, be asked to do for Vitol and my role as an MP”.
“More generally, British companies have billions of pounds of investments in Russia, and billions of pounds more and many jobs depend on well-established trading links. In times of political stress, it is right that the Government seeks to protect those relations.”
A Vitol spokesperson said: “To date, Charles Hendry has solely provided advisory services to Vitol with regard to UK and EU energy policy.