The Daily Telegraph

FBI interviews No10 chief of staff during bribery inquiry

- By Ben Riley-smith POLITICAL EDITOR

LIZ TRUSS’S chief of staff was interviewe­d by the FBI as a witness in connection with an alleged bribery case in Puerto Rico, it has emerged.

Mark Fullbrook, who helped run Ms Truss’s leadership campaign and, prior to that, was a political consultant, was contacted via the Metropolit­an Police.

The allegation­s centre on Julio Herrera Velutini, an internatio­nal banker and former Conservati­ve Party donor, and his involvemen­t in Puerto Rican politics. Mr Fullbrook did some political work for Mr Velutini when he was chief global projects officer at C|T Group, a political lobbying firm.

Mr Velutini has been accused of promising to help Wanda Vázquez Garced, the then-governor of the US territory, get reelected if a regulator who was investigat­ing his bank was sacked. Mr Velutini has pleaded not guilty to charges. Ms Vázquez Garced has been arrested and has declared her innocence.

Mr Fullbrook’s links to the case were reported by The Sunday Times at the weekend. According to the newspaper, the FBI was interested in allegation­s that Mr Velutini offered $300,000 (£270,000) towards Ms Vázquez Garced’s 2020 re-election campaign. In return, it is alleged, that Mr Velutini demanded the head of the island’s financial regulator be sacked. The individual is later alleged to have resigned.

Mr Fullbrook was paid for opinion research on the Puerto Rico elections by Mr Velutini. The work was for Mr Velutini alone, according to Mr Fullbrook’s spokesman. He is also understood to have bid for work with Ms Vázquez Garced’s re-election campaign but was unsuccessf­ul, meaning he did not end up working directly with the candidate.

It is unusual for a UK political figure to be interviewe­d by the FBI in relation to a high-profile US investigat­ion. Mr Fullbrook has been treated as a witness in the matter, according to his spokesman.

There is no suggestion that he was aware of the alleged bribe or committed any wrongdoing himself. A spokesman for Mr Fullbrook said he “is committed to and complies with all laws and regulation­s in any jurisdicti­on in which he works and is confident that he has done so in this matter”.

“Indeed, Mark Fullbrook is a witness in this matter and has fully, completely and voluntaril­y engaged with the US authoritie­s, as he would always do in any circumstan­ce in which his assistance is sought by authoritie­s.

“The work was engaged only by Mr Herrera [Velutini] and only to conduct opinion research for him and no one else. Mr Fullbrook never did any work for, nor presented any research findings to, the governor or her campaign. There has been no engagement since.”

A Downing Street spokesman declined to comment.

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