Brexit-Backing Think Tank Founder Accused Of Working For Russia

(Bloomberg) -- 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.

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.

“These documents are brief, terse, factual files listing activities, associations and judicial action,” Seely said. “They have been authenticated by senior French intelligence sources and by British and American counterparts familiar with their contents. The documents indicated a link to a noted individual in this country with Russian intelligence.”

Because Seely was speaking in Parliament, he can’t be sued for his comments. Chandler issued a statement denying any association “directly or indirectly with Russian intelligence or the Russian state.”

“Neither Christopher Chandler nor anyone at Legatum is aware of any such alleged ‘investigation’ by French authorities, not 16 years ago or at any time since,” the statement said. “To be clear Christopher Chandler has never been approached at any time by the French or any other authorities regarding Russia and maintains a sterling record of ethical business practices earned over many decades. These accusations are complete nonsense, and have been previously rebutted by the Legatum Group.”

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