Sunday, July 23, 2006

Donations in disguise

Most of the attention in the British "cash for peerages" scandal has focused on the effective purchase of seats in the House of Lords in exchange for large loans - something which is illegal under the UK's Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925. But there's another aspect as well: the violation of electoral funding laws. The UK's Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 requires political parties to declare not only political donations, but also any loan not made on commercial terms. And it is now turning out that the "loans" made by those seeking titles seem to fall into this category. The Labour Party has not paid a cent of interest on these loans, despite a nominal interest bill of 436,000 pounds. Meanwhile, it has paid 505,000 pounds of interest on loans Labour officials describe as "commercial, pay-back stuff". The strong implication is that these loans are simply donations in disguise, to be written off at a later date or simply never called due, and that Blair's Labour Party conspired to evade the law - a crime with a penalty of up to a year in jail. So much for "whiter than white" and cleaning up government...


From memory, the loans are set up in such a manner so that upon the death of the lendor the loan is written off (if what I read was correct). It is, as you say, in effect donation revenue being manipulated to fit the definition of a liability - which is unusual, to say the least. Normally it is a case of trying to make debt look like equity, or borrowing and illegally passing it through the books as revenue to increase profits.

Hopefully numerous heads will roll in NewLabour for this.

Posted by Ashley Clarkson : 7/23/2006 04:34:00 PM

The tax department or authorities (of whatever sort monitors this) should just interpret them as donations or whatever they obviously are in their simplest incantation.

I hate these stupid accounting dodges.

Posted by Genius : 7/23/2006 06:32:00 PM