Better Together donor Vitol “naive” in Balkans trade

Paddy Ashdown says Vitol should been more aware in its Balkans dealings. Picture: Getty
Paddy Ashdown says Vitol should been more aware in its Balkans dealings. Picture: Getty
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FORMER Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown has said it is “legitimate” to question the £500,000 donation to the pro-union Better Together campaign by Ian Taylor, the president and chief executive of Vitol.

Lord Ashdown was UN High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2002 to 2006 and responsible for pursuing war criminals in the former Yugoslavia. He said companies such as Vitol were “naïve” over their dealings in the Balkans.

Vitol has insisted that it broke no laws although a sum of £660,000 was paid to Serbian warlord Arkan to facilitate a deal.

Lord Ashdown said today: “Anybody who did business in the Balkans who didn’t realise there were networks of corruption that extended into any and all governments was naive.

“It’s a basic principle that I appreciate and understand. Wherever you are coming from, it’s a perfectly legitimate line to pursue.”

Mr Taylor made his donation after a meeting with Better Together chief Alistair Darling and it accounts for almost half of the pro-union campaign’s £1.1 million of funding so far.

SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson welcomed the intervantion from the Lib Dem grandee.

“Lord Ashdown knows better than most the circumstances of the Balkans at that time, and his views must be taken seriously,” he said.

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