Tory peer’s ‘£4m for Russian lobbying’
Cameron ally got ‘bonus for asking US to lift sanctions’
A TORY peer received a bonus of up to £4million from a Russian energy firm owned by oligarch Oleg Deripaska for lobbying the US to drop sanctions, reports claim.
Lord Barker of Battle took the payout from EN+ after it and Mr Deripaska were blacklisted by the US Treasury for alleged criminality.
The ex- energy minister, who was ennobled by his ally David Cameron, left the Lords temporarily to successfully lobby America to drop the measures.
Despite criticism of his financial links to Moscow, the 53year-old has refused to say how much he is paid by EN+ as its executive chairman.
Lord Barker confirmed last month that he would receive a bonus, although he insisted it would be ‘relatively modest’.
But sources linked to the company told the business website Bloomberg that it was expected to be between £3million and £4million. The news comes as the Government is said to be planning to increase scrutiny of Lords with links to hostile foreign states such as Russia.
Lord Barker and EN+ had promised his salary would be disclosed in annual accounts published earlier this week. But, in an unusual move, the firm did not reveal his pay, instead giving a total of £1.4million paid to all non-executive directors.
He was appointed chairman of the Jersey-registered company in 2017 before it floated on the London Stock Exchange, raising £770million, in a move that raised concerns at MI6.
The US placed sanctions on EN+ in April last year to crack down on oligarchs linked to the Kremlin and Russia’s ‘ malign influence’. Further measures were placed on Mr Deripaska, who is said to be one of Russia’s most influential businessmen.
The US Treasury cited claims that he was a state actor for Russia with links to organised crime, murder and extortion.
Lord Barker took a leave of absence from the Lords in February to travel between London, Moscow and Washington to negotiate a deal to lift the EN+ sanctions. This meant he could use his title but did not have to register his business dealings.
The sanctions were lifted in January following a deal that required Mr Deripaska’s 70 per cent stake to be halved. Lord Barker insists he was lobbying for minority shareholders, claiming the sanctions had ‘ muted’ the tycoon’s influence.
The peer stepped down as an MP in 2015. But his links to Russia were formed before he entered the Commons in 2001, when he worked for Sibneft, the oil group run by Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich.
His role in the Russian energy sector has come under scrutiny, and he was called to give evidence to the Commons foreign affairs committee in February.
Security minister Ben Wallace claimed he was seeking ‘government assistance for Russian associates’. Lord Barker told the committee he met Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan, and Labour MP Stephen Pound after EN+ was hit by sanctions, but did not ask for help.
In February, the Lords standards commissioner dropped a probe into whether he tried to influence the Government.
A spokesman for Lord Barker and EN+ refused to comment on his bonus, claiming details of his pay would appear in the firm’s next annual accounts.
Scrutiny: Lord Barker