NOTE: The following UK news story prompted Prime Minister Timothy Harris to refute any references to his government in a statement published on this website.
London (MailOnline)- A Tory donor who was arrested last year amid allegations that he was involved in a £43 million fraud has been caught up in extraordinary fresh corruption allegations.
Property tycoon Peter Singh Virdee has been accused of bribing high-ranking Caribbean politicians after secretly taped telephone calls emerged in a High Court judgment issued last week.
Mr Virdee and business associate Dieter Trutschler were taped making references to the topic of payments or gifts to government officials.
Both men deny any wrong-doing.
The allegations emerged in the High Court case, which saw Mr Virdee and Mr Trutschler accuse the UK’s National Crime Agency of flouting the law when they were arrested by British police after an extradition request from Germany.
German police suspected the pair were involved in a complex VAT fraud and tapped their phones.
Excerpts from the transcripts of the calls came to light in a judgment issued by the court that rejected Virdee’s attempt to overturn the NCA action.
Mr Virdee, 44, runs the £4 billion B&S Property group in Mayfair, London. According to the Electoral Commission, his firm donated £62,000 in 2011 and 2013 to the Conservative Party.
The tycoon, who has met the Queen and Prince Philip, also runs The Virdee Foundation, a charity which helps vulnerable women and children. The High Court judgment focused on his renewable energy company PV Energy, which employs Mr Trutschler. It says: ‘The German authorities intercepted telephone calls that caused them to suspect that Mr Virdee and Mr Trutschler may be involved in bribery and or corruption in relation to PVE in the Caribbean.’
Lord Justice Holroyde and Mr Justice Dingemans said the NCA believed ‘the claimants were ready and willing to pay bribes, and had given at least one gift to a Caribbean politician’.
Mr Virdee and Mr Trutschler told the court that the transcripts make it clear they were refusing to involve themselves or PVE in the payment of any bribe or any other corrupt activity.
The court emphasised that nothing in the judgment was a final adjudication of the precise meaning of the transcripts.
In one transcript, Virdee said that the ‘Antiguan energy minister’ asked for money. To which Virdee said he had replied: ‘What do you mean, “I need two million”? You can’t just f****** take two million. You can’t just say, “I need two million because I did a lot of gravy.” ’
According to the judgment, Mr Virdee was recorded saying of the same minister: ‘he said to me “You promised my mum a car”. I said: “I have no problem in buying you a car.” The judgment then quotes Mr Virdee saying ‘[The minister] is obnoxious. I said to him, “Go f**** yourself…” ’
Mr Virdee, 44, who runs the £4 billion B&S Property group in Mayfair, London, insists that phone transcripts exonerate him from any wrongdoing
The judgment also records that Mr Virdee told Mr Trutschler that ‘the Prime Minister of St Kitts’ was visiting, and he was ‘taking him and his entourage for dinner this evening, so be ready for a big bill’.
Mr Virdee, according to the judgment, continued: ‘He said he would like a nice watch, I said, “OK.” I don’t want to be spending more than like £2,000 on a watch.’ The judgment also describes a conference call between Mr Virdee, Mr Trutschler and the Antiguan energy minister.
The judgement said: ‘The minister said he was not greedy, and mentioned a 50-50 or three-way split. The minister said he wanted 10 per cent of the contract price, which he thought was 50 million with a 13.3 million profit.’
According to the transcript, Mr Virdee’s response was: ‘13.3 million. You want 10 per cent of 45 million which is 4.5 million, we are left with 8.5 million, there will be roughly three million to take care of what we need to do locally.’
The minister is said to have replied: ‘That is too much, come on, give me a break Peter. I am not working for nothing and you guys walk away with everything like in Antigua.’
In 2017, it was revealed that Mr Virdee had been arrested at Heathrow airport and faced possible extradition to Germany, where it was claimed he was one of the ‘central organisers’ of a VAT plot – which he denied.
He was accused of running a VAT ‘carousel’ fraud in EU carbon credits, in which traders export the credits from one state to another to cash in on VAT rules. As exports, they are exempt from VAT, but the traders charge customers VAT which they fail to declare to authorities.
Last week’s court judgment said: ‘Mr Virdee was arrested because the NCA believed “offences under the Bribery Act 2010 had been committed”.’
A spokesman for Mr Virdee and Mr Trutschler said: ‘The NCA have an ongoing investigation and it would be inappropriate to comment, save to say that both of our clients strongly deny suggestions that they were involved in bribery.’