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Gething donor married to peer who chairs group founded by sanctioned Russian oligarch

17 May 2024 5 minute read
Lady Jeanne Marie Davies

Martin Shipton

A donor to Vaughan Gething’s leadership campaign is married to a former minister with links to a Russian oligarch, who has been described as close to Vladimir Putin.

Lady Jeanne Marie Davies is married to Lord Mervyn Davies, who was a Trade Minister in Gordon Brown’s government from January 2009 until May 2010. An entry in the Electoral Commission’s political donations register shows that Lady Davies donated £21,600 to Mr Gething’s leadership campaign.

Lord Davies, whose title is Baron Jones of Abersoch, was educated at Rydal Penrhos School in Colwyn Bay. He began his career in banking with the Midland Bank, later taken over by HSBC.

In 2015 Lord Davies was appointed deputy chairman of the LetterOne Group, an investment business in the energy, technology and telecom sectors. The group was founded by Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman, who was described as “a top Russian financier and enabler of Putin’s inner circle”. In 2019 Lord Davies became the group’s chairman.

Ukraine

Weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Mr Fridman, who owns a £65m home in north London and is worth an estimated £10.9bn, was hit with EU sanctions freezing his assets. At the time Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, who at the time chaired the House of Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee and is now Minister of Security at the Home Office, called on Lord Davies to step down as CapitalOne’s chairman, saying: “Some moments demand a choice – this is one.”

Shortly before the invasion, as Russian troops mobilised near the border with Ukraine, Lord Davies defended Mr Fridman in a statement to the Mail on Sunday in which he said: “Mikhail is a gifted, tough and entirely non-political entrepreneur. A long term investor who loves and lives in the UK.”

But a week after the invasion, Mr Davies and LetterOne’s chief executive Jonathan Muir issued a joint statement that said: “ Mikhail Fridman and [his business partner] Petr Aven have stepped down from the LetterOne board. As a result, they will no longer have any involvement with or influence over the business or its investments. They will not receive dividends, communications or any funds or economic resources, directly or indirectly. Their assets in the business are effectively frozen, they have no rights as shareholders and – if sanctions are lifted – the board is under no obligation to return these rights.

“We want to be clear that LetterOne is not impacted by these sanctions. Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven own less than 50% of LetterOne shares and have no control of the business. I believe these steps are the right ones in light of the shocking and deeply saddening invasion of Ukraine. It is a war that Russia must stop. The total priority for us and our team is LetterOne. Through our investments, we support 120,000 jobs. We are and will remain long term investors in brilliant businesses – including Holland and Barrett and UPP in the UK, Dia in Spain, Destination Pet in the US, WDEA in Germany and many more.”

Pay increase

Lord Davies did not stand down from the LetterOne board and it later emerged that he received a sharp increase in pay from the group, picking up $40m to cover his work for 2021 and 2022.

In September 2023 the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation of HM Treasury updated the text of the financial sanctions notice related to Mr Fridman. He became referred to as “an involved person under the Russia regulations” instead of “a prominent Russian businessman and pro-Kremlin oligarch”. Additionally, a phrase alleging close ties between Mikhail Fridman and President Putin was deleted from the document.

On September 5, 2023, the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) announced in absentia that Mr Fridman was suspected of violating Article 110 of the Criminal Code, which provides for liability for financing actions to seize power, overthrow the constitutional order, or change the territory of the state. Under this article, he could face up to eight years in prison with confiscation of property. The SSU believes that since the start of the conflict, the banker has invested about two billion rubles in Russian defense enterprises, in particular, in the Tula Cartridge Plant.

Legal challenge

In April 2024, following a legal challenge, The General Court of the European Union took Mr Fridman off the EU sanctions list.

Meanwhile concerns continued over the idea to hand over unspent donations to Mr Gething’s leadership campaign to the Labour Party. Mr Gething has said the money – amounting to more than £31,600 – should be spent on diversity projects. But a Labour insider said “Team Vaughan are in a mess of their own making. Whatever evidence they have, they’ve had for a week and a half. They chose to use it to sack Hannah yesterday to distract from the donations deadline. They then threw more mud in the air, inventing a non-existent diversity scheme that the money could be spent on. Diversity promotion probably means not pulling stunts like sacking Wales’ most prominent lesbian politician.

“It’s all a distraction from the fact that this money is going to Labour’s general funds. We now need politicians in Pembrokeshire to say whether they are comfortable that this money is spent on leaflets in a county where the donor is making people’s lives miserable.

“And you do not use ministerial sackings as part of your crisis comms plan.”

Secretary of State for Wales David TC Davies said: “This [the idea of spending the excess money on diversity projects] is just another pathetic smokescreen in a desperate bid to justify why the money was accepted.

“Quite frankly, the public is sick to death of these constant excuses. They want to see someone delivering for Wales, not dragging it down.”


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
30 days ago

Like corroding ferrous metal Mr Shipton never sleeps…

There is much else that needs a ‘closer look’ when you have the time, Sir…

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
29 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Love that similie! I wonder if Mr Gething has every upset Mr Shipton in any way? Mr Shipton does seem to have a bit of an obsession with Mr Gething. Not complaining, just making more popcorn…

Seriously though we and NC are extremely privileged to have Mr Shipton writing for us.

hdavies15
hdavies15
29 days ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

We need more Shiptons and fewer sham scribblers who just copy and paste junk dished to them by the parties and their P.R /lobbyists. The craft of asking probing questions, gathering information and collating it into a coherent picture should never be allowed to die out.

Ap Kenneth
Ap Kenneth
30 days ago

Just read John Sweeney’s book Killer in the Kremlin to get a feel for how this all works. Clean up politics and limit any donation to say £1k fron UK citizens resident in the UK.

T3DSK1
T3DSK1
26 days ago
Reply to  Ap Kenneth

I would say if you can’t afford to run your own campaign then don’t run

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
30 days ago

Did TC really say that…some neck !

You are never more than six steps from a Russian Oligarch…

Last edited 30 days ago by Mab Meirion
Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
29 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Yeah, I thought ‘Pot, kettle, black’ when I read TC’s contribution. And yes, the Tories did go rather silent over Russian oligarchs around late February 2022…

T3DSK1
T3DSK1
26 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Seems they are like rats

Llyn
Llyn
30 days ago

Wow this is a rather tenuous attack article on Vaughan Gething.

Ap Kenneth
Ap Kenneth
29 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

Not really as it is this sort of money that is bringing politics into disrepute. The company where this money ultimately comes from is based in Luxembourg ( tax efficient ha ha) and was funded by the sales proceeds of TNK-BP, a
massive oil company bought by Rosneft, via Mr Fridman. Mr Fridman ultimately answers to Putin.
Before accepting such “donations” where is the due diligence and risk assessment of any of our politicians. George Osborne and Mandelson were guilty of this over a decade ago.

karl
karl
28 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

Its a rather revealing article on the depth of the issues. Gething is a part of that problem and is leaving our Senedd to be linked closer to the Westminster stink.Basic morality should be key to anyone serving us as first minister

adrian savill
adrian savill
29 days ago

Keep on digging

Dewi
Dewi
29 days ago

He’s currently on ‘leave of absence’ from the House of Lords, as is Lord Goldsmith (another Labour Peer)
– they are not subjected to financial scrutiny when on leave of absence.

karl
karl
28 days ago
Reply to  Dewi

At least not getting payed daily allowance. But stinks

Riki
Riki
29 days ago

And? So seeing how Russia could benefit with breaking the UK up, how is this bad thing? Couldn’t this lead to more Pro Independence Labour members? No Russian ever Drowned a village in Wales!, No Russian ever called me Sheep………….! No Russian ever banned my Language! No Russian ever stole my countries resources!

CapM
CapM
29 days ago
Reply to  Riki

The Ukraine is Russia’s Cymru.
Choosing one imperialist power to cheer for convincingly undermines how genuine you actually are in booing another.

Riki
Riki
29 days ago
Reply to  CapM

No, other way around. If Wales gained its independence and the Welsh speakers started to attack English speaking people, especially those who are English. I’d expect England to do the same. Russia has consistently stated that they see a Russian living anywhere as still being Russian and will protect them at all costs. I feel seriously ashamed you just compared that fascist nation with my beloved Wales!!! If you weren’t aware, Ukraine are seriously fascist, with its founding father being a Sympathiser.

Last edited 29 days ago by Riki
Maglocunos
Maglocunos
28 days ago
Reply to  Riki

Stepan Bandera was more than a ‘sympathiser’

Google the guy

.

Riki
Riki
28 days ago
Reply to  Maglocunos

I know, but I couldn’t say anything more extreme for….reasons.

CapM
CapM
28 days ago
Reply to  Riki

Maybe do a bit more reading about the “relationship” Russia and Ukraine have experienced historically right up to the current invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
Ukraine’s identity was not created in the turmoil of WWII whatever Putin’s propaganda bots have said to convince you.

It’s quite an admission of yours that you would expect an invasion of your “beloved Wales” and it’s reabsorption by England if some Cymry in an independent Cymru attacked English speaking people.

To me such a view indicates that defending Putin’s invasion of Ukraine with such reasoning is your primary concern here. Looks like beloved Russia.

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
28 days ago
Reply to  CapM

It’s you that needs to do more reading.There was a coupé against a democratically erected government in Ukraine in 2014.
Since then all Ukrainian main opposition parties have been banned, any media organisational that has criticised the current regime has been shut down.
I even read a comment on this site recently that the current Ukrainian government were defending democracy.
This war could have easily been avoided but the current regime have failed to implement the Minsk agreements of 2014 and 2015 , which by the way were brokered by France and not Russia.

CapM
CapM
28 days ago
Reply to  Johnny Gamble

In 2008 Russia invaded Georgia.
No doubt Georgia did something or didn’t do something and Russia had to act. to protect itself from anti democratic/expansionist/neonazi/genocidal Georgia.

Russia is a wannabe again imperialist state with a gangster for a president. Some people have a fascination with such “strong” leaders and empire creation.

If Putin is successful in Ukraine such people will need to get busy and dig up more excuses for his next expedition into an ex Soviet state.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
29 days ago

Kate Garraway says persecution of carers is of the same ilk as the post office scandal…

So that means that the main thrust of a Tory Government is a mix of sadism toward the poor and generosity to their fellows as exemplified by Sunak…

They must be put into special measures in future…

hdavies15
hdavies15
29 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Carers are seldom rich enough to stimulate a “caring” reaction from Tories. Don’t predict much better from the Starmer crew either.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
29 days ago

The Welsh Guards:

Lies and more lies, but I have a book that exposed those lies years ago…

A Government that cannot tell the truth under any circumstances, a government that tortures its most giving and most vulnerable…scum!

Jeff
Jeff
29 days ago

Lot of dirty money in UK politics. How deep does it go.

hdavies15
hdavies15
29 days ago

Are any of VG’s circles of friends, acquaintances etc beyond reproach or does he just luv schmoozing with dodgy people ?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
29 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

I wonder about the ‘think tanks’ they access from the behavioral manipulation specialists pouring out of Cardiff Uni along with ‘how to con people through the media’ courses being run by the same establishment…

Last edited 29 days ago by Mab Meirion
Another Richard
Another Richard
29 days ago

It is good that Nation.Cymru is shining a light on the donors to Mr Gething’s campaign. One has to wonder what might motivate plutocrats for whom £31k is small change to support him. It is all very fishy as, as far as I am aware, large private donations have not previously played a role in Welsh politics. Why should that change now? Please note, though, that Lord Davies’ official title is not Baron Jones of Abersoch, it is Baron Davies of Abersoch. Also it is both confusing and incorrect to refer to him as “Mr Davies” as this article does.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
29 days ago

Perhaps in the post Fat Shanks era things have become more overt, ‘linked-in’ may have introduced another means of collectivisation…spivs and chancers’ forum…

Titles will be a thing of the past in the new Cymru…

Last edited 29 days ago by Mab Meirion

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