The founder of one of the most influential pro-Brexit think tanks was suspected of working for the Kremlin, a member of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party said.
[New Zealand-born billionaire] Christopher Chandler, chairman of investment group Legatum Global Holdings Ltd, has been an “object of interest” to French intelligence since 2002, “on suspicion of working for Russian intelligence services,” according to Bob Seely, a Conservative lawmaker who cited 2005 files of the Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire (DST).
The accusation, which is denied, is significant because Chandler has used some of his wealth to found the Legatum Institute, which has worked with those in May’s Conservative Party who want a harder break from the European Union. Until recently its director of economic policy was Shanker Singham, who argued that Britain’s interests would be best served by leaving the EU’s customs union. The institute’s “senior fellows” include Matthew Elliott, who ran the campaign for Brexit.
The London-based Legatum Institute was founded in 2007 by the Legatum Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Dubai-based investment firm Legatum Group.
Here is more about the think tank from openDemocracy:
Legatum was not always well disposed towards Brexit. Before the June 2016 referendum, it widely seen as a liberal, pro-EU outfit. Among those employed from its Mayfair offices were US author [and Washington Post columnist] Anne Applebaum and Soviet-born British journalist Peter Pomerantsev.
That changed in the wake of Brexit. Applebaum left after Philippa Stroud was appointed as CEO, in September 2016. The eurosceptic Baroness Stroud co-founded the Centre for Social Justice think-tank and was a special adviser to Brexiteer Iain Duncan Smith.
In March, the think tank parted ways with Shanker Singham, a high-profile advocate of a "hard" Brexit, whose access to cabinet ministers such as Boris Johnson and Liam Fox led to a wave of negative publicity for Legatum.
Singham and three members of his team moved to the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a right-wing think tank in Westminster.
Legatum, which was "relatively unknown" before the Brexit vote, reportedly has an annual income of around $5.8 million.