Friday, June 12, 2009

How to handle Russian oligarchs

On today's BBC website there is a strange story of how Putin bullied and humiliated billionaire businessman Oleg Deripaska last week. On live TV, he stood over the embarrassed oligarch and forced him to sign on the dotted line to reopen an aluminium plant he had just closed. It was almost old Joe Stalin in action which is fitting as Putin does seem to show Stalinist tendencies.

Maybe another leader who has show Stalinist tendencies, not least in internal Labour Party affairs, Gordon Brown, could use the same tactics with the LDV closure in the UK. If he's not sure where Oleg is at the moment, he can ask Oleg's friend Peter Mandelson.

Oleg Deripaska is well known to the UK because George Osbourne leaked the story that Mandelson was having a free holiday on Oleg's yacht off Corfu. This caused suspicions because actions taken by Mandelson when he was an EU commissioner over the tax on imported aluminium increased Deripaska's already great wealth. (There is no proof that Mandelson or those close to him gained financially from these actions except for this luxury holiday in Corfu. Peter Mandelson lives in a £2.5 million villa in London.)

George Osbourne didn't get away unblemished by the affair as he knew Mandelson was there because he also visited Oleg on the yacht. The yacht was moored off of Osbourne friend Nat Rothschild's villa and it was Rothschild, a rich hedge fund manager, who introduced them. Rothschild considered that Osbourne had broken a confidence so then made public that Osbourne had been there to ask Oleg for a donation to the Tory Party via his ownership of LDV.

What a complicated corrupt little world these people live in.

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