David Cameron should pay back hundreds of thousands of pounds donated to the Tories by the chief executive of a company accused of having dealings with notorious Serbian warlord Arkan, an MP said today.
• PM told to pay back donation made by Vitol boss Ian Taylor to Tory party
• Mr Taylor accused over alleged links to Serbian war lord Arkan
• Vitol chief has also donated to pro-Union Better Together campaign
SNP Westminster Group Leader Angus Robertson claimed the Prime Minister had accepted “hundreds of thousands of pounds” from Ian Taylor, chief executive of Vitol, the world’s largest independent oil trader.
Mr Robertson, while commending the Government’s commitment to tackling sexual violence in conflicts, said Mr Cameron would have “more credibility” on the issue if he paid back Mr Taylor’s money and stopped having private dinners with him at Downing Street.
But Mr Cameron said it was “totally regrettable” that Mr Robertson was trying to “play some sort of political card”.
Mr Taylor recently donated £500,000 to the campaign to keep Scotland in the UK, Better Together, and according to the Daily Mail previously donated £466,000 to the Tories under Mr Cameron.
The Prime Minister hosted Mr Taylor and his wife for dinner on November 2 2011 according to the Conservative Party’s details of dinners at No 10 and Chequers that were attended by individuals who had donated more than £50,000.
The dinner was described as a “social dinner for strong and long term supporters of the party, with whom the PM has a strong relationship”.
At Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons, Mr Robertson said: “The Government is absolutely right to prioritise the combating of sexual violence in conflicts, under the chairmanship of the G8.
“But the Prime Minister would have more credibility on this subject if he didn’t accept hundreds of thousands of pounds and private dinners at Downing Street from Mr Ian Taylor.
“Mr Taylor’s company Vitol has admitted dealings with the notorious Serb war criminal Arkan who is indicted for ‘wilfully causing great suffering, cruel treatment, murder, wilful killing, rape and other inhuman acts’.
“Will the Prime Minister stop hosting Mr Taylor at Downing Street and give the money back?”
Mr Cameron replied: “First of all, let me thank Mr Robertson for what he says about the Foreign Secretary’s very commendable efforts to make sure that rape and sexual violence are no longer used as weapons of war and conflict.
“The Government is putting a huge impetus behind this in terms of the G8.
“I have to say I think it’s totally regrettable he tries to play some sort of political card in the rest of what he said. “
Vitol has faced criticism this month following allegations about deals in Iraq and the former Yugoslavia.
The company 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.
The Better Together campaign has said the £500,000 donation from an oil trader was taken in “good faith” and there are no plans to hand it back.