A senior Liberal Democrat has been recorded discussing with an undercover reporter how to give thousands of pounds to the party in secret and how “doors will open” following a substantial donation.
Ibrahim Taguri, who previously worked as the party’s chief fundraiser and who is standing at the general election in Brent Central, spoke to a Daily Telegraph journalist posing as a businessman about how donations could be channelled through relatives to avoid a rule that means those of more than £7,500 must be publicly declared.
The journalist was introduced to senior party figures, including Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and former leader Lord Ashdown, and was also offered a meeting with Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister.
The Telegraph said that donations totalling £9,100 were sent to the Liberal Democrats by the fake businessman.
Mr Taguri has denied doing anything wrong, saying he had not cashed the cheque and would have declared it in accordance with the rules.
The reporter told Mr Taguri that he hoped to persuade his wife to “go public” so that he could donate up to £100,000 to the party.
“Well, when you do this, the doors will open for you,” Mr Taguri said, according to The Telegraph. “Make it happen and then, then we’ve got a, we’ve got a different scenario. Okay?
“We’re going to introduce you to the parties, they will be, very, very helpful once they know you are helpful.
“That’s when we will, you know, the party will go, 'Right, this is a guy we like, we know he’s supportive and - ’, and we’ll work out a plan if we need to. But also, you know, I will help you at the same time so, don’t worry.”
At a later meeting, the fake businessman said he was interesting in getting housing grants and asked Mr Taguri for some council contacts.
“We’ve got a very good person in the GLA, in the London authority… she does transport. But she may be able to help with housing,” said Mr Taguri. “If I’m elected, so I can then start doing things… I can do things to help you.”
According to Electoral Commission rules, intermediaries “must not be used as an attempt to evade the controls on permissibility and transparency” regarding donations.
However Mr Taguri discussed how the fake businessman could donate a total of £15,000 by saying it was from him and his wife without declaring this.
He also agreed with the fake businessman’s suggestion that he could pay £7,500 into his cousin’s bank account so this could be then transferred to the party, saying “exactly yes”.
The fake businessman then sent Mr Taguri a text message saying: “I saw my cousin at the weekend. I’ve now given him the money. I can drop the cheque in for you in the next day or two.”
Mr Taguri asked how much and the reporter replied £7,650. “Brilliant thank you!” said Mr Taguri.
Backdating a cheque - so it appeared to have been donated in a different financial year - was another method discussed to avoid the £7,500 disclosure rule.
Mr Taguri told The Telegraph that he believed the “cousin” had made a personal donation and had not passed on the fake businessman’s money.
He said he was “publicly declaring all donations”, not just those he was required to reveal. “I have been as transparent as I possibly can,” he said.
A Liberal Democrat spokesman said it was looking into the allegations.
“Had the money come to us, which it as of yet hasn’t, we would have declared the original source as is legally required and we would have no intention of doing anything otherwise,” he said.Reuse content