The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Tang is the man who broke into the Krem­lin

Cigar ty­coon’s secret mis­sion to meet Putin


SIR DAVID TANG sur­passed his own leg­endary sta­tus as the man who has been pals with ev­ery­one from Fidel Cas­tro to Kate Moss by em­ploy­ing some cun­ning to meet Vladimir Putin.

The Hong Kong en­tre­pre­neur or­ches­trated a bizarre tete-a-tete with the Rus­sian leader by pos­ing as a lowly mem­ber of Oliver Stone’s cam­era crew, who were in Moscow film­ing a doc­u­men­tary for Sky.

As Sir David, 62, is used to hav­ing doors flung open for him at the world’s most ex­clu­sive celebrity hotspots, slip­ping through the small­est door in the Krem­lin was quite a de­par­ture.

‘I en­tered a room with cheap im­i­ta­tion Versailles fur­ni­ture and two cor­pu­lent wait­ers in ill-fit­ting black suits. A sin­gle lamp dimly lit the unas­sum­ing en­trance and there was no grand stair­case,’ says Sir David, who was once per­son­ally driven by the Queen at a San­dring­ham shoot.

Sir David’s pow­ers of per­sua­sion are such that when he met Cas­tro in 1992 he se­cured an ex­clu­sive fran­chise to sell Cuban cigars, but even his charm could not per­suade Putin to let slip any state se­crets.

Sir David says: ‘I was fi­nally led up to the most in­flu­en­tial man on Earth. The words com­ing out of my mouth did not re­ally reg­is­ter with my brain, which was think- ing all the time that the man in front of me could have im­parted more se­crets than any other man on the planet, but in­stead was talk­ing in­con­gru­ously about pedes­trian Chi­nese food and his Chi­nese jack­ets.’

The ren­dezvous, pic­tured above, took place in Fe­bru­ary but has TALKS: Ty­coon Sir David with Putin been marked top secret by Sir David un­til now. The doc­u­men­tary is to be broad­cast on Sky on Tues­day, and Putin might be in for a shock when he sees Sir David’s name in the cred­its listed un­der ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer, not run­ner.

I can only hope that he sees the funny side!

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