Former Partner in Mercenary Force Funds Tory Association; POLITICAL OPPONENTS ATTACK WELSH DONATION OF Pounds 5,000
Byline: MARTIN SHIPTON
POLITICAL opponents have criticised the donation of pounds 5,000 to a Welsh Conservative association from an oil tycoon who used to be a partner in a mercenary army.
Tony Buckingham, whose wealth is estimated at pounds 475m, gave the money to Carmarthen West and Pembrokeshire South Tories, on top of a pounds 50,000 donation to Conservative Central Office in London. The seat was won from Labour at the General Election by Conservative candidate Simon Hart, the former chief executive of the Countryside Alliance.
Until the firm's dissolution in 1998, Mr Buckingham was a partner in Executive Outcomes, which provided mercenary soldiers who fought in a succession of African conflicts. He has not been involved in military affairs since.
Records published by the Electoral Commission show that Mr Buckingham gave pounds 50,000 to Conservative Central Office on May 14 - a week after the election. On June 1 he made a donation of pounds 5,000 to Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire Conservative Association.
Labour AM for Mid and West Wales Alun Davies said: "I would be interested to know what links Simon Hart has with Mr Buckingham to persuade him to donate his money here, rather than any other constituency in the country."
Former Labour AM for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, Christine Gwyther, said: "Voters in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire have a right to know if this cash will be used to back future Tory election campaigns."
Mr Buckingham is now an oil industry executive with a significant share-holding in Heritage Oil Corporation. Heritage has been listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange since 1999, and more recently became listed on the London Stock Exchange.
Mr Buckingham's direct and indirect share-holding is estimated to represent 33% of Heritage.
He is an avid and accomplished sailor, competing on behalf of Great Britain on many occasions. He has won many trophies at regattas including Cowes Week, and notably won the prestigious Commodores' Cup in 2000.
Executive Outcomes was founded in South Africa by former lieutenant-colonel of the South African Defence Force, Eeben Barlow, in 1989. …