Scottish Tories take PS100,000 from dodgy donor linked to war criminal

Labour MP John Mann accused Ian Taylor of donating "dirty money"

IAN TAYLOR, a multi-millionaire businessman accused of immoral business practices, has donated a six-figure sum to bankroll the Tory election campaign in Scotland.

Taylor, who in total has donated over PS1m to the Tories and the campaign against independence, faced scandal in 2001 when it emerged Vitol had paid Serbian warlord Arkan $1m to fix an oil deal.

Now, the Scottish National Party (SNP) is calling on the Tories to reject this fresh donation, pointing to a series of issues with Taylor's business record as chief executive of Vitol since 1995.

A SNP spokesperson said: "If her party has accepted a donation from Mr Taylor, it raises serious questions about Ruth Davidson's judgement.

"The No campaign accepted money from him despite deeply worrying questions over his alleged business links and it does the Scottish Tories no credit whatsoever if they think they can now take a similar donation and avoid scrutiny.

"If these reports are accurate, the Tories should do the right thing and hand the money back."

Arkan's vicious history - he was indicted for 24 crimes against humanity at a UN war crimes tribunal - "was well documented" when Taylor's colleague, Vitol director Bob Finch, met Arkan in Belgrade.

Vitol plc - one of the world's biggest oil firms - was found guilty of grand larceny in a US court for paying 'kickbacks' to Saddam Hussien's Iraq. The company also avoided tax for more than a decade through the notorious 'Employee Benefit Trusts' scheme.

Taylor was also accused of improper donations to the Conservative Party. His PS550,000 of donations led to private 'Leaders Group' meetings with David Cameron and fellow millionaire donors. When Vitol was awarded a $1bn contract to supply oil in Libya, Taylor's position was described as a "huge conflict of interest" .

When these issues emerged during the referendum on Scottish independence, Taylor's lawyers threatened The Herald newspaper alongside pro-independence websites National Collective and Wings Over Scotland with legal action.

A Conservative Party spokesperson has not yet commented on the specific issues regarding Taylor's business history.

Vitol plc is adamant that payments made to Serbian war lord Arkan were not illegal. Layers acting on behalf of Mr Taylor have claimed there is nothing improper about his political donations and links between the donations and Libyan oil contracts are "spurious". Vitol conceded it would have to "pay something" in a tax deal with HMRC.

Picture courtesy of MoneyFace