Conservative funder calls for probe into other donors trading on the pound


A prominent Tory donor is heading to next week’s party conference in Birmingham with a demand that some of his fellow supporters be scrutinized for their role in the pound’s fall in recent weeks.

Mohamed Amersi, who has given £700,000 ($761,340) to the Tories since 2018, has backed calls for an investigation into hedge fund managers who trade around Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget.

He cited reports suggesting that prominent figures in the city, including fellow Conservative contributor millionaire Crispin Odey, appeared to have prospered on the fallout from the tax package announced on September 23 by betting the pound would plummet.

“Serious Things”

Mr Odey’s European hedge fund is said to have risen around 145% after the company bet against the pound and government bonds in the gilt market.

While admitting the market turmoil has been “useful”, he ridiculed a suggestion that he had inspired his former colleague Kwasi Kwarteng’s initiative to cut the UK’s top taxes to avoid a downturn.

“There’s a crazy idea that one is behind every twist,” Mr Odey told the Financial Times. “All I can do is catch the wind once in a while.”

Mr Amersi said the events of the past few days could spell the end of Prime Minister Liz Truss’ tenure at 10 Downing Street.

“A number of hedge funds here have made money from the way [George] Soros did this 20 years ago, which was selling the pound short because they expected the pound to lose value in money, so they would sell the currency short and then buy it back,” said said Mr. Amersi. The National in his Mayfair townhouse in London.

“One of the people who is rumored to have done this is Crispin Odey.”

The sudden frenzy in British currency trading on Friday sparked a backlash against the government’s handling of the mini-budget.

The volume of trading was such that Mr Amersi is backing opposition Labor voices for an inquiry into how the market reaction was triggered just as the mini budget was announced.

“Labour has asked for an inquiry into whether there is any possibility that the details of the mini-budget have been leaked,” he said.

“It’s something serious. Very, very serious things because if there’s evidence of it happening, I think [Ms Truss] won’t last very long.

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Mr Odey recouped around £220million on a day when the pound fell following the June 2016 European Union referendum in which Britain voted for Brexit. But he lost the money within weeks as the markets rallied.

The hedge fund titan is one of the Tories’ biggest donors, having given the party at least £1.7million in recent years.

A staunch Brexit supporter, Mr Odey has donated more than £800,000 to Leave campaigns, including £32,000 to the UK Independence Party when led by Nigel Farage.

After the UK was plunged into an economic crisis on the back of Mr Kwarteng’s mini-budget, Mr Odey described his bets against gilts as ‘the gifts that keep on giving’.

“Lebanon must look to Britain for change”

Mr. Amersi, entrepreneur and philanthropist and founder of the Amersi Foundation, also discussed the political issues plaguing Lebanon.

He said a “change of mentality” of the people of Lebanon is essential if the country is to enjoy a better future. He also called for changes to the constitution to reflect the Westminster model.

On Thursday, the Lebanese parliament failed to elect a new president, with the majority of MPs submitting blank ballots and some even withdrawing.

The failure exposed deep political divisions that threaten prolonged political paralysis and a leadership vacuum amid prolonged economic collapse.

Lebanon struggled to strike a deal with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout.

The six-year term of outgoing President Michel Aoun ends at the end of October. The former military general and Hezbollah ally won an election in October 2016 after a similar political stalemate that lasted two years.

The country’s fragile sectarian power-sharing system stipulates that the president must be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of parliament a Shia Muslim. A 50/50 ratio of Muslims and Christians must be maintained among the 128 members of parliament.

“Today’s demographics are very, very different and so I personally think there is a strong voice that demands a review of what applies today,” he said.

“When I meet Lebanese, I say, why in this country, do you call yourself either Maronite, or Shiite, or Christian, or Sunni, or Druze? Why can you first consider yourselves as Lebanese? »

Mr. Amersi, who was instrumental in efforts to establish the Conservative Friends of the Middle East and North Africa (Comena) as a rival or replacement for the long-established Conservative Middle East Council , sees the UK’s constitutional arrangements as instructive for Lebanese seeking new models of government.

“I think a constitutional review is needed and under that you might want to structure it the way the UK works. Some powers reside in Westminster and likewise some powers will reside in Beirut,” he said.

“They would deal with security, raising taxes, economic policies, these will be centered around Beirut.

“But then the devolved regions like we have here, Scotland, [Northern] Ireland, Wales, they get money allocated to them and then they are responsible with their parliaments to decide how it is spent and what their priorities are.

Updated: October 03, 2022, 10:59 a.m.

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