Cash for Honours: Lib Dems name Indians for House peerage,Dy PM caught in row

Britain’s deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has been caught in a “cash for honours” row.

Written by Press Trust Of India | London | Published: October 21, 2013 1:35:15 am

Britain’s deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has been caught in a “cash for honours” row after two Indian-origin multi-millionaires,who are among the biggest donors to his party,have been lined up for honorary titles.

The Liberal Democrats,coalition partners in the Conservative-led government,have recommended Sudhir Choudhrie for a seat in the House of Lords.

Choudhrie has personally donated £95,000,while his family companies have given the party at least £650,000 since 2004.

A report in ‘The Sunday Times’ also claims that until a few years ago the businessman was not domiciled in Britain for tax purposes. The 65-year-old now lives in London and sources close to him told the newspaper that he came onshore two years ago and now pays full UK taxes on his worldwide income.

The Choudhrie family’s portfolio include C&C Alpha Group,which runs care homes for the elderly and people with learning difficulties and mental illness. However,its parent company,Harberry Investments,is incorporated in the tax haven of British Virgin Islands.

Another multimillionaire,Rumi Verjee,who brought the Domino’s pizza chain to Britain,is top of a list of seven names compiled by the Lib Dems who are expected to be awarded honours within weeks. He has given £7,70,000 to the party since May 2010.

The disclosure may lead to accusations of hypocrisy against the Lib Dems,who have made crackdowns on tax havens and people who avoid tax a key policy priority.

Since 2010,it was made compulsory for British peers to be full-time resident of the UK. Several peers have given up their non-domiciled status to retain their seats. Political parties in Britain nominate candidates for the honorary titles.

Choudhrie has been on a shortlist of Lib Dem peers for months. His name is expected to be recommended to the House of Lords Appointments Commission in the next few weeks.

“New appointments to the House of Lords will be made in line with the coalition agreement and will be announced in due course. Appointments from all political parties must pass an independent vetting process,” the Deputy Prime Minister’s spokesperson said.

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