MP calls for NCA to consider dealings of Tory donor Mohamed Amersi


As published by the Guardian

The former cabinet minister David Davis has asked for the National Crime Agency to consider the past business dealings of the Conservative donor Mohamed Amersi, saying in parliament that the businessman “facilitated corrupt deals”.

Davis made a string of serious allegations about Amersi under parliamentary privilege, saying the businessman and philanthropist had misused the legal system to pursue a defamation case against Charlotte Leslie, a former Tory MP. The case against Leslie failed last year.

He accused Amersi of having bullied Leslie and of having been behind lies that she sexually blackmailed men, physical intimidation and threatening letters sent by the law firm Carter-Ruck to journalists and MPs. Davis said it appeared to him to amount to “criminal harassment” and said he would send a copy of his parliamentary speech to the Metropolitan police for them to consider whether it was.

The Conservative MP for Haltemprice and Howden said it was “for the appropriate legal bodies to come to a decision on his innocence or guilt”.

Amersi denied the corruption allegations, saying they were made up and he had never been found to have engaged in any wrongdoing. He called the claims about Leslie “unhinged and utterly wrong”, saying he was in fact the subject of a “well orchestrated bullying, harassment and intimidation campaign by Leslie and her media and political cabal”.

Davis made the claims in parliament after the publication of a book by the Guardian journalist Tom Burgis.

After the speech, Amersi tweeted: “David Davis made another misinformed rant against me in favour of Leslie and to promote Burgis’s book. For the record I repeat what I had previously said: 1. By using parliamentary privilege, Davis has bullied and lied about the true facts. If he has any substantive proof about what he alleges, please say it to me outside. Do not be a coward; 2. Every deal undertaken had magic circle advisers and blue chip banks; 3. I deny in the strongest terms any and all allegations; and 4. All the deals have been the subject of review by various enforcement agencies around the world and no wrongdoing on my part was established.”

Speaking during an adjournment debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Davis outlined his views on Amersi’s role as an adviser on telecoms industry deals in Russia, Uzbekistan, Nepal and Kazakhstan.

He said Amersi was an adviser in 2005 in a deal in Russia along with a lawyer and businessman who is said to have been a front for Leonid Reiman, a Vladimir Putin ally and former Russian telecoms minister. The lawyer has previously denied this.

Davis said: “It seems likely that Amersi’s payment for the deal – $4m – came from the proceeds of crime against the Russian people, funnelled via [the lawyer].”

Davis also said Amersi was involved in a deal struck by a Swedish telecoms company, TeliaSonera, in Uzbekistan that later “led to a finding of criminal activity”, as Telia had agreed to buy a stake in a company controlled by the Uzbek president’s daughter for a hugely inflated price in order to gain access to the Uzbek market. The MP said that company and its Uzbek subsidiary later admitted it had paid more than $331m in bribes to an Uzbek official.

“That is corruption 101: paying a bribe by vastly overpaying in a business deal that ultimately profits members of a corrupt regime,” he said. “The American Department of Justice confirmed that TeliaSonera ‘corruptly built a lucrative telecommunications business in Uzbekistan, using bribe payments wired around the world through accounts in New York City’.”

Amersi said the deal, for which he was paid £500,000 for advising on the valuation and structure, had been examined by four enforcement agencies and no wrongdoing by him had been found.

The Conservative MP said that thanks to Leslie and the Labour MP Margaret Hodge, as well as “the relentless work of journalists such as Tom Burgis, upon whose new book Cuckooland I will draw today, we know that Amersi was deeply immersed in a twilight world of backroom bribes, creative accountancy and a whole lot of smoke and mirrors.”

Amersi responded that this was “a figment of his imagination, rejected and denied in its entirety”. He said the claim that he was paid £19,000 a day to advise TeliaSonera was a “made-up sensational number”.

He said every deal he worked on had world-class lawyers and bankers involved, and he was only an adviser, while deals had to be approved by a deal team, management, board and in some instances shareholders.

Davis also outlined his concerns about a deal advised on by Amersi for TeliaSonera in Kazakhstan, where he said Amersi “facilitated a large, questionable business deal to the benefit of a banker accused of being a front for the corrupt Kazakh regime”. He raised further concerns about a deal that he said Amersi helped to facilitate in Nepal.

The businessman responded later that he had “no idea what [Davis] was talking about”.

The politician said Amersi’s dealings “in the former Soviet Union and Nepal are therefore surely a matter for the National Crime Agency to consider”.

Amersi has given more than £500,000 to the Conservatives and some of its politicians since 2018.

Davis did not directly criticise the Conservatives but said all parties had been too ready to accept money from wealthy people. Amersi says he has helped charities, academic institutions and donated to the Tories “with no quid pro quo”.

Separately on Tuesday, Hodge wrote to the Electoral Commission and the Met calling for an investigation into questions related to a £200,000 political donation that Amersi’s long-term partner, Nadia Rodicheva, made to the Conservative party in 2017.

A book by Burgis reported that the donation was initially going to come from Amersi himself. However, at that time he was deemed an “impermissible donor” because he was not on the electoral roll. Correspondence shows Tory party officials suggesting to Amersi that the donation should instead “please come from Nadia’s account”.

The Conservative party did not respond to questions about the donation but said it “only accepts donations from permissible sources”. Amersi said the donation was made from Rodicheva’s sole account after a “lengthy” process undertaken by the party to ensure that the donation was legally compliant. “As far as Ms Rodicheva and I are concerned, no rules were broken,” he said.

Amersi said the party had direct communications with Rodicheva prior to receiving her donation. He added: “It is for the Conservative party to answer what checks were made.”