Last Wednesday the House of Commons went into a six week-long summer recess. As is usual, MPs had an opportunity to present - in the Summer Adjournment debate - the argument that Parliament should not enter recess until their matter of concerns had been discussed.
So, at 5.22 pm on 22 July, former Brexit department minister Conservative MP for Wycombe Steve Baker, inter alia, made the following cryptic intervention:
“Many of the people associated with the journey of formulating that trade policy, from the days when the Legatum Institute special trade commission was doing that job, and I was working with them, have been exposed to and suffered really vitriolic attacks. Indeed, I would say that I have suffered malevolent attacks.
Today, though, I want particularly to defend Christopher Chandler, who is the founder of Legatum and that family of companies.
On 1 May 2018,* my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight (Bob Seely) made a speech, the main object of which was Christopher Chandler. I wish to acknowledge the nobility of my hon. Friend’s intent, because any Member of Parliament presented with such a dossier would face difficult questions about what to do with it. He referred to a call for an Intelligence and Security Committee investigation of Mr Chandler, who does not appear in the recent ISC report.
We might, then, ask what Mr Chandler and others did. Legatum, the company that Mr Chandler founded with three partners and of which he is the chairman, commissioned an extensive forensic investigation into the claims by former members of law enforcement and military intelligence. Richard Walton, the former head of counter-terrorism command at the Metropolitan police performed his own independent review of the findings of that investigation and concluded that the allegations made by MPs in the House were totally false. Mr Walton has today briefed me on the reasons why he has drawn that conclusion, and I am absolutely satisfied that the reason why Mr Chandler has not been called to face charges is because there are no charges that he should face. He is an innocent man and, whatever the noble intent of my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight, I am afraid that Mr Chandler has been unjustly dealt with.
Legatum told me today: “When given the opportunity to present the truth, Legatum has overwhelmingly prevailed in 13 out of 14 actions in the UK, resulting in a stream of corrections, retractions and apologies.” This is, then, fundamentally a case of justice. As I say, I believe that Mr Chandler has absolutely no case to answer; it is just that under the system we currently have an individual has no recourse to what is said in the House of Commons, other than a Member of Parliament standing up for them. At some point the House is going to have to deal with the issue of a right to reply.”
Former intelligence officer, Bob Seely, Conservative MPS for the Isle of Wight , intervened on Baker speech saying
I thank my hon. Friend for giving way; I was aware of what he was going to say. He makes a really important point and, respectfully, I listen with care. Clearly, a right of reply may strengthen the credibility of privilege, such that we could see it as a questioning event in the public interest rather than an accusatory one. I am in favour of that, because I want the privileges that we have to have credibility. I hear what he says and I respectfully listen to what he says and to what he says about his friends. I would merely say that parliamentarians who care about the relevance of this place wrestle with what the right thing to do and say is, sometimes in complex and difficult circumstances. Does he agree that we all try to act in the best possible way? If there is work to be done on updating privilege, I am very happy to join that.
“I would not expect my hon. Friend to go any further than that today and I am very grateful to him for what he has said. That will have been heard and I am grateful to him.
In the urgent question earlier, I said something about Legatum’s work on Russia, which I think is honourable and noble. It would be strange indeed if Mr Chandler was connected to Russian intelligence, given that he has put so much investment into fighting the effects of Russian wrongdoing. I have already mentioned trade policy; it is rare indeed that one can say that somebody has facilitated so much benefit to so many people.
Let me say a little more, because Mr Chandler is also a believer in private philanthropy. Since its founding in 2012, the END Fund has facilitated the delivery of more than 720 million treatments relating to neglected tropical diseases, in 27 of the world’s poorest countries. His Freedom fund has liberated 24,277 men, women and children. His Luminos fund has, through its Second Chance accelerated-learning programme, seen 132,611 children brought back to school. Mr Chandler is not a man who should have been vilified; he is an inspiration.
Injustice is not always brought down on the heads of the weak. Virtue does not always belong to the poor. On this occasion, I have had to do something, which would have been far better had I not had to do it, and that is to defend a man who is wealthy and strong, but who has been placed in a position without a right to reply, and it has been necessary for me to stand up today and to seek to set the record straight and to defend his honour. I say again that Richard Walton, the former head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, has investigated all of these matters and said, “The allegations made in the House of Commons are totally false.” If you will allow me Mr Deputy Speaker, my last words are from a quote chosen by Mr Chandler himself:
Twenty-six months earlier, on 1 May 2018, Bob Seely had made a controversial speech in the House of Commons using Parliamentary privilege, as part of the debate on Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill [Lords] (https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2018-05-01/debates/9BE03BAC-2539-4951-88A2-9A8A20D7A1A3/SanctionsAndAnti-MoneyLaunderingBill(Lords))
“It is a privilege to follow the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Catherine West).
I believe that the fight to improve the integrity of our financial system and to do what we can to reduce money laundering is critical in the fight against not only corruption but the malign influence of authoritarian states. I very much welcome the work done by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) and the right hon. Member for Barking (Dame Margaret Hodge). I felt very proud to agree to rebel against the Government— I am quite glad I did not have to—but nevertheless, I thank them for that amendment.
On the point about corruption and the malign influence of others, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Liam Byrne), the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant), the right hon. Member for Exeter (Mr Bradshaw), my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Adam Holloway) and I have been shown documents that we believe relate to our national security and money laundering. They originate from Monaco’s Sûreté Publique, the police department that manages security and foreign residents in that area. They are based on the Sûreté Publique’s own information and on information provided by the French Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire—the DST—which at the time, was the French equivalent of MI5.
These documents are brief, terse, factual files, listing activities, associations and judicial actions. They have been authenticated by senior French intelligence sources and by British and American counterparts familiar with their contents. The documents link a noted individual in this country with Russian intelligence. These files are dated from 2005 and cover the period from the mid-1990s. The documents concern Christopher Chandler and his brother—Christopher Chandler is a public figure, owing to the Legatum Institute. In citing this evidence, I note the words of the right hon. Member for Exeter, who in November 2017 called for the House’s Intelligence and Security Committee to examine Mr Chandler.
According to the French security services, as recorded by their colleagues in Monaco—and clearly, I am confident that these documents are genuine—Mr Chandler is described as having been
“an object of interest to the DST since 2002 on suspicion of…working for the Russian intelligence services.”
“an object of interest to the DST since 2002 on suspicion of…working for the Russian intelligence services.”
Ben Bradshaw. the Labour MP for Exeter intervened, saying:
“I first raised concerns about Legatum and Mr Chandler back in November. Does he agree that the information that he has just put in the public domain, combined with the growing concern about corruption, money laundering and the sale of passports in Malta, where Chandler has just acquired citizenship, demands urgent investigation by the UK authorities now?
Mr Seely replied:
“I am most grateful for that intervention. I am aware that the right hon. Gentleman has seen these documents and that he shares my concerns. I believe that the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill, should he have the privilege of being called to speak, will talk further on that point and make reference to these files.
Christopher Chandler’s personal file is marked “File code S”, a DST marker indicating, if I understand correctly, a high or higher level of threat to France. In France, the letter “S” is now used to designate radical Islam. In Monaco then, it was used to designate counter-espionage. As I have said, Mr Speaker, I believe that other Members, if you wish to call them, may cite further details—the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill, the hon. Member for Rhondda, the right hon. Member for Exeter or my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham.
I wish to state explicitly that I make no criticism of the staff at Legatum, nor those people who have engaged with its charitable work, nor members of the public, nor, clearly, Members of this House who have dealt with this institution. I have thought long and hard before making this statement, but I have done so because I believe, and the five of us believe, that it is in the national interest to do so. If people like Mr Chandler are vulnerable to malign influence—maybe he is an innocent party in this, who knows?—especially if the information on them is covert, that matters to our democracy.
In November 2017, the Prime Minister highlighted the danger from Russia of subversion. I take my lead from her when she said that the Russian regime was trying to “undermine free societies”. I also read the excellent piece in The Sunday Times this weekend looking at how Russian bots may have manipulated elections. One of the problems in elections is that if they are manipulated successfully, the winning side does not want to know and the losers plead sour grapes, so the answer is to do what we can to strengthen our electoral system before it is too late.
Labour MP Chris Bryant added:
“I commend the hon. Gentleman for what he has said and fully concur with what he has argued—I have seen the papers as well and I have come to the same conclusion as him. Does he think that the Magnitsky clause will make a significant difference in our being able to tackle this kind of hidden pervasive influence in British society and British politics?”
Mr Seely answered:
“Anything that helps us is important because we need to keep our society free of covert and malign influence. I was in the States last week, as the hon. Gentleman knows, and I am working with Congressmen there and in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, so that we can combine best practice. That is important because a counter-propaganda Bill is going through the United States Congress—do we need that here, etc.?
If I see information of this kind, I have a choice: I can disregard it and become complicit or, if it is genuine, I can put it in the public domain. It might be that Committees will wish to have access to this information, and I suspect that those who have it will provide it to any of the six Committees investigating Russia, if they wish to do so. It might be that Mr Chandler can provide a satisfactory explanation or argue that these relationships, if they existed, are now historical or have been misrepresented in the documents. I do not use privilege lightly, Mr Speaker. He might wish to offer evidence, written or oral, to any of those six Committees, whose work I am supporting, in a modest way, as secretary to the Russia steering group. I look forward to his response— I am quite sure there will be one.
I will be writing to the Prime Minister in the coming weeks to suggest further measures to strengthen our democracy and electoral system. The struggle of our generation is how we deal with authoritarian states and their actors, official or proxy, who use free and open societies to damage those free and open societies. We need to do something about it. Increasingly, Members now see that covert malign influence from authoritarian states, most commonly our friends in the Kremlin but also elsewhere, is a real and present danger to our nation, to our financial system—hence this debate—and to the transparency of our democracy and electoral system, not to mention the Kremlin’s ability to conduct acts of violence and murder on our soil. We have a duty to speak up and to use this House for the public good. That is what I am doing now.
‘Truth ultimately prevails where there are pains to bring it to light.’
I have taken those pains today. Let truth prevail.”
Billionaire Christopher Chandler denies spy claims
MPs told parliament that the New Zealand-born businessman had links with Russian intelligence
Legatum Group founder Christopher Chandler. Photograph: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters
Legatum Group founder Christopher Chandler. Photograph: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters
Luke Harding The Guardian, Tue 15 May 2018
A billionaire accused in parliament of having links to Moscow intelligence has said that he is not a spy, does not speak Russian and is the victim of a sustained and mysterious campaign of “innuendo.”
In an interview with the Guardian, the New Zealand-born Christopher Chandler shrugged off the claims made last week by a group of cross-party MPs, who cited documents which suspected him of “working for Russian intelligence services”.
The claims were made under parliamentary privilege. They were based on files written by Monaco’s security services, including information from France’s DST foreign intelligence agency. Chandler is described as an “object of interest” to the DST because of his alleged Kremlin ties.
“The documents indicated a link – a noted individual in this country – with Russian intelligence,” the Conservative MP Bob Seely said.
Chandler dismissed the claim: “No, I’m not a Russian spy. I don’t speak Russian. I don’t know anybody in the Russian state thing.”
He said he was baffled by the documents and had no idea he had been under surveillance. The French never contacted him, he said, and their operation went nowhere. “We lived peacefully in Monaco for 20 years. The whole thing is insane.”
Chandler funds the Legatum Institute, a London-based thinktank which has been accused of advocating for a hard Brexit. The Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, who has raised questions about the Kremlin’s possible role in the EU referendum, has called on the authorities to investigate. Legatum said it was an “absurd accusation to say that they had an undue influence on Brexit”.
A series of exposés by the Mail on Sunday claimed that the institute’s former economics director, Shankar Singham, held clandestine meetings with Michael Gove and Boris Johnson. The goal was to pile pressure on Theresa May to leave the single market and customs union.
Chandler, who lives in Dubai and received Maltese citizenship in 2015, insisted that Legatum did not have a firm stance on Brexit. Its focus was prosperity, he said. “Brexit is not our game,” he insisted.
He added that he knew of Nigel Farage but was only dimly aware of Arron Banks, the main financial backer of Leave.EU, which was fined last week by the electoral commission for multiple breaches of expenditure guidelines.
Asked if Russia had sought to influence the outcome of the referendum by backing leave, possibly through undercover methods, Chandler said: “I’m totally unqualified to comment. Is Russia capable of doing that? No question. Did they actually do it? I don’t know. They certainly didn’t do it through us.”
He was reluctant to offer an opinion on whether the Kremlin was trying to sabotage or undermine western democracy. Nor would he say if it had sought to help Donald Trump win the 2016 US election – the consensus view of all US intelligence agencies.
Chandler described the recent attempted murder in England of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal as “abhorrent”. “Probably it’s what it looks like,” he said when asked who he thought was to blame, but stressed that he was “unqualified” to judge if Moscow was ultimately behind the nerve agent operation.
The businessman was already rich when he invested in Russia soon after the end of the USSR. He said he earned “hundreds of millions” from his stakes in various companies, but also invested “hundreds of millions” and lost large sums in 1998 when the Russian economy collapsed.
Asked if he was the beneficiary of a corrupt system in the 1990s, which created the oligarchs but made most ordinary Russians considerably poorer, Chandler said: “We genuinely believed we could be a force for good [in Russia] by bringing our investment experience.”
Chandler and his brother Richard ended up with a 4% stake in the energy company Gazprom. He said that as a minority shareholder in Russia, he came up against “well entrenched interests”. They placed damaging “kompromat” about him in the Russian media. Some of it may have reached Monaco, he suggested.
The Mail on Sunday reported over the weekend that the Chandlers backed Vladimir Putin’s attempt to oust Gazprom’s chief executive and to replace him with a St Petersburg ally, Alexey Miller. The paper cited a recent pamphlet written by Richard Chandler.
It said the Chandlers managed to appoint their own candidate to Gazprom’s board of directors and then “appealed directly” to the president, paving the way for Miller’s appointment. Chandler acknowledged corruption at Gazprom but said he had fought against it.
He described his brother’s version of events as wrong and said he had not heard of Miller when he got the top Gazprom job in 2001.
Chandler said he never met Putin and met Miller just once, in the summer of 2003. “I didn’t spend enough time to get the measure of him,” he said. Chandler said he offered ideas via an interpreter on how Gazprom might be reformed.
In 2006 Chandler exited from the Russian market when he separated his business affairs from those of his brother. Richard Chandler continued to trade Gazprom stocks. The French and Monaco intelligence files stretch to 85 pages, it is understood.
The businessman visits the UK rarely and does not often given interviews. He has been described as secretive. “I don’t have any secrets. I’m a regular person who likes his privacy,” Christopher Chandler told the Guardian, speaking from Legatum’s townhouse office in Mayfair.
Chandler said he felt aggrieved the MPs had not contacted him before making their “erroneous” claims in the House of Commons. He said he spent several hours last week sitting in Portcullis House, where MPs have their offices, trying unsuccessfully to meet them and to make his case in person.
Lawyers for Chandler have written to several parliamentary committees asking them not to publish the Monaco “dossier”. To do so, they argue, would infringe the businessman’s rights.
And what about Brexit? Chandler is unwilling to say whether it’s a good idea. Or a bad one. “I think it’s up to the UK to determine,” he said. “It will be determined by what you do with it. You can make a success or a failure out of it.”
Documents appear to contradict denials by Christopher Chandler that he and his brother Richard (left) helped Putin’s associates take control of Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom.
Richard Chandler (businessman)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
New Zealand businessman
Richard Fred Chandler
1958/1959 (age 61–62)
US$3.2 billion (August 2018)
Christopher Chandler (brother)
Richard Fred Chandler (born 1958/59) is a New Zealand-born billionaire businessman. He is chairman of the Clermont Group, a Singapore-based business group that invests in public and private companies across a range of industries, including energy, financial services, consumer, and healthcare. Chandler "has a reputation for buying struggling companies and successfully rebuilding them," according to Australian Broadcasting Corporation News. He also has been known to "take a business approach to philanthropy."
Born in New Zealand, Chandler is the son of beekeepers Robert and Marija Chandler, who launched and operated Chandler House, a department store in Hamilton, New Zealand.
Chandler was formerly CEO of the Sovereign group of companies, in partnership with his brother, Christopher Chandler. Between 1986 and 2006, Sovereign invested in companies and governments in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe, and in industries including telecommunications, electric utilities, steel, oil and gas, banking and oil refining.
The brothers split their assets in 2007 with Richard Chandler creating Orient Global and the Clermont Group while Christopher Chandler starting Legatum Capital. Richard's investment style has been described as deep value investing, primarily in global emerging markets and especially in distress situations.
Orient Global changed its name to Richard Chandler Corporation in April 2010 before becoming the Chandler Corporation in 2013, and the Clermont Group in 2016. The company "is a long-term value investor that believes well-governed companies play a fundamental role in creating national prosperity," according to its website.
Richard Chandler's business ventures have been tinged with themes of contrarian investment, corporate governance and social responsibility, especially by investing in and managing companies with national socio-economic implications. He once told Institutional Investor, "We do have altruistic motives that some investors who are looking for a path of least resistance find hard to understand, but we don’t want to be defined by our corporate governance battles. We are value investors with a sense of responsibility, not activists."
The Chandler brothers were involved in a highly publicized incident in 2005. Sovereign sold its investment in South Korea's SK Corp., at the time South Korea's third-largest oil conglomerate, after the board refused to oust chairman and CEO Chey Tae Won. Chey had been convicted of accounting fraud for illegally trading stocks. Sovereign had invested in the company just after Chey's arrest, hoping to turn it around. Richard Chandler and his brother tried twice unsuccessfully to remove Chey and ultimately pulled out for ethical reasons. By that point they had improved the company and profited US$728 million.
In 2007 Richard Chandler launched a US$100 million education initiative in the developing world with the focus to build low-cost private education opportunities in India. Furthermore, he invested in a global chain of international K-12 schools called Nobel Education Network.
Multiple media outlets reported in 2012 that Chandler considered investing in the Tasmanian logging company, Gunns, but ultimately decided not to.
Yahoo Finance reported in June 2013 that Chandler's company acquired an 80% stake in Hoan My Medical Corporation, Vietnam's largest private hospital group. According to the article's author, the transaction "complements the healthcare businesses the Chandler Corporation owns and operates in Indonesia and the Philippines, positioning it to become a leading private healthcare provider in Asia."
In November 2017, Richard Chandler was invited to be a core partner in Co-Impact, a new global model for collaborative philanthropy and social change at scale. Other core partners include Bill and Melinda Gates, Jeff Skoll, Romesh and Kathy Wadhwani, and The Rockefeller Foundation.
Chandler is married to Kady Leyau, a business woman, former model, actress, and VJ at Taiwan MTV.
- ^ Jump up to: a b c d "Forbes profile: Richard Chandler". Forbes. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
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- ^ Jump up to: a b "Chandler Corporation".
- ^ Gunns Saviour a Reclusive Billionaire, ABC News, February 2012.
- ^ 48 Asian Altruists, Forbes, February 2008.
- ^ "Our story". Legatum. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
- ^ Jump up to: a b "The World's Billionaires (2009)", Forbes, November 2009.
- ^ "New Zealander Richard Chandler: Forbes Lister And The Big Player In Equity Markets". International Business Times AU. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
- ^ McSheehy, Will (11 October 2006). "Chandler Brothers split up interests". The New Zealand Herald. Bloomberg. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
- ^ "Richard Chandler, Sino-Forest, and how $10 million turned into $5 billion","Santangels Review", July 2011.
- ^ "Open Corporate". opencorporates.com. Chrinon Ltd. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
- ^ Gunns blames Greens for billionaire blow, The Sydney Morning Herald, March 2012.
- ^ Chandler Corporation Acquires an 80% Shareholding in Vietnam's Hoan My Medical Corporation, Yahoo Finance, June 2013.
- ^ "Leading Philanthropists Announce Co-Impact, A Global Collaborative for Systems Change, with US $500 Million in Planned Initial Funding - Co-Impact". Co-Impact. 15 November 2017. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
- ^ "Belmont Rd GCB fetches S$33.8m or S$2,243 psf". businesstimes.com.sg. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
- ^ "Luxury bungalows at Belmont Road, Sentosa Cove sold for more than $33 million". edgeprop.sg. Retrieved 27 August 2018.