A close relative of Tory MP David Warburton has been offered a lucrative advisory role in the business of a businessman who provided the politician with an undisclosed loan of up to £150,000 to a vacation rental, the Guardian can reveal.
The party has removed the MP whip for Somerton and Frome, who is said to face allegations of sexual harassment, cocaine use and failure to report a loan from Roman Zhukovsky, a financial adviser who specializes in offshore tax advice and providing tier one ‘gold’ investor visas for foreign citizens.
Warburton introduced his wife’s uncle, businessman Rodney Baker-Bates, to Zhukovsky in the summer of 2018. Baker-Bates was then offered a £75,000-a-year advisory role at Dolfin , the company founded by Zhukovsky, sources told the Guardian.
After being told to stay away from the parliamentary estate and reportedly referred to parliament’s harassment watchdog, Warburton was taken to a psychiatric hospital on Sunday afternoon for shock and stress treatment.
He reportedly denied any wrongdoing and insisted he had ‘huge defenses but unfortunately the way things work means it doesn’t come out first’.
Colleagues expressed shock at the alleged behavior, describing the married father of two as calm, polite and hardworking.
But three women were cited by The Sunday Times as raising concerns about his conduct, and the paper also alleged that Warburton received a loan of £100,000 from Zhukovsky.
Sources told the Guardian the loan in 2017 was closer to £150,000 and was repaid with “high interest”. The loan was for a vacation rental property and described by sources as “commercially oriented”.
MPs are required by parliamentary rules to register a so-called interest, in this case a loan, within 28 days if it affects their parliamentary activities. If a Member is in any doubt as to whether to declare an interest, they are advised to do so. At no time did Warburton disclose details of his financial relationship with Zhukovsky.
Warburton, Zhukovsky and Baker-Bates were approached for comment.
The charges against him could provoke investigations from three instances. There are no allegations of wrongdoing against Zhukovsky or Baker-Bates.
The House of Commons did not confirm whether an investigation was underway by the Independent Complaints and Grievance System into harassment complaints.
Scotland Yard did not say whether it was reviewing evidence that Warburton was photographed with lines of what appeared to be white powder.
And the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, who investigates undeclared declarations, could launch her own investigation if she fears the loan was not properly recorded.
Diane Abbott, the Labor MP and former shadow Home Secretary, pointed to Warburton’s previous comments in the House of Commons regarding the “appalling exploitation” of young people by drug gangs. She said her comments had been “gross hypocrisy”.
The Guardian has learned that a year after he was given the loan, Warburton introduced Baker-Bates to Zhukovsky.
Baker-Bates, uncle of Warburton’s wife, Amanda Baker-Bates, has held many high profile chairmanships and business appointments for various organizations including Stobart Group, Chase Manhattan Bank, BBC, Prudential, Coral and Britannia Building Society .
Her brother, Amanda’s father, is diplomat Merrick Baker-Bates CMG, former Deputy High Commissioner to Malaysia and British Consul General in Los Angeles.
The source confirmed reports in The Sunday Times that Warburton invited Zhukovsky, a British citizen of Russian origin, to Parliament and used his parliamentary email address to arrange meetings for Zhukovsky, including one with Jacob Rees-Mogg, the current Brexit Opportunities Secretary. , who was a backbencher at the time in 2017.
Zhukovsky’s Dolfin effectively collapsed in July 2021, entering special administration, after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) imposed restrictions on its activities.
Smith & Williamson has been appointed special trustee of Dolfin Financial, following previous FCA restrictions placed on the business.
An investigation by the Telegraph, SourceMaterial and OpenDemocracy found the company was accused of “dishonestly or recklessly” misleading officials about its work for Nurali Aliyev, grandson of former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said relevant processes should be followed to review Warburton’s conduct.
“Obviously any allegation like this should be taken with extreme caution, but all the facts will also need to come to light,” he told Sky News. “So until we get to that, I don’t think there’s much more I can usefully add.”