THE Better Together campaign, who are calling for a ‘no’ vote in the Scottish independence referendum, says a £500,000 donation from an oil trader was taken in “good faith”, amid criticism of his firm’s past dealings.
Ian Taylor, president and chief executive of Vitol, gave about half of the £1.1 million raised so far by the official No campaign group.
The SNP immediately raised questions about the multinational company, following allegations about deals in Iraq and the former Yugoslavia, which are disputed by the firm.
Vitol has acknowledged making some payments to Saddam Hussein’s regime outside the scope of the UN’s oil-for-food programme but rejects claims they were anything other than surcharges demanded by the state oil company.
The firm was accused of being linked to an oil deal involving Serbian criminal Arkan, who led paramilitary forces in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
But Vitol rejects any suggestion of illegal conduct and says it was not investigated by any government or authority.
SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson MP said: “We need to know exactly what the No campaign knew about these issues and what their opinion is of them.”
A spokesman for Better Together said: “This was a donation from a private individual. It was given and received in good faith.”
Responding to wider allegations, a spokeswoman for Vitol said: “The company has taken legal advice and will take whatever steps are deemed necessary to have these inaccuracies corrected, and to prevent their further publication.”
Mr Taylor’s donation was made public at the weekend in a list of donors to Better Together, which has banked about £1.1 million in total so far.
Today, the pro-independence Yes Scotland revealed it has been given about £1.6 million - almost entirely built up from a £1 million donation from lottery winners Chris and Colin Weir.