Heathrow and Saudi banks – where Boris invests London taxpayers’ millions

Well, well. Boris is against Heathrow expansion, isn’t he? You have to then wonder why his office is investing millions in Heathrow airport. According to the Independent on Sunday, the Mayor’s office invested £3.54 million in the airport just two weeks ago. Liberal Democrat Assembly member Stephen Knight is quoted:

The GLA said that notwithstanding Mr Johnson’s trenchant views on Heathrow, it remained a suitable investment. But critics of the Mayor, who is ultimately responsible for GLA investments, said there was a clash between the mayor’s public position and his officials’ investment decisions.

Mr Knight said: “Only Boris Johnson would not be able to understand the total contradiction between publicly opposing a third Heathrow runway, whilst behind the scenes pouring millions of pounds of London taxpayer’s money into Heathrow bonds, which will help finance such an expansion.”

Other controversial recipients of London’s taxpayers’ hard earned cash include a Saudi Arabian bank.

The IoS understands the GLA first placed funds with Riyad Bank in 2014, and its four outstanding loans will pay a total of £388,000 in interest when they mature between next week and next April.

The bank, which has a branch in Mayfair, London, is the third-largest in Saudi Arabia and there is no suggestion that it is not well run nor fully compliant with all international regulations. But critics argue that its links to the Saudi state, which has been heavily criticised in recent months for actions from its ongoing air campaign in Yemen to its imprisonment of the blogger Raif Badawi for “insulting Islam”, make it an inappropriate destination for UK taxpayers’ money. The bank is 49 per cent owned by state bodies and prominently features the three most senior members of the Saudi royal family in its annual reports.

Stephen Knight has it about right:

It says a great deal about Boris Johnson’s moral compass that he is happy to lend hundreds of millions of pounds of London taxpayers’ money to banks based in, and partly owned by … repressive regimes.

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8 Comments

  • Peter Bancroft 13th Dec '15 - 11:18am

    I’m sorry, this makes no sense whatsoever.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 13th Dec '15 - 11:57am

    What, that London taxpayers’ money is being invested in Heathrow, whose expansion the Mayor says he opposes? Or that our capital city is investing in a bank that is part owned by one of the most repressive regimes in the world? That is something definitely worth bringing to Londoners’ attention.

  • The difficulty is that Libdoners already know Boris has ” a questionable moral compass” but they clearly don’t think that’s important as the majority voted for him to continue as Mayor. Also, Boris is on his way out so people will just shrug and say ‘ well he is going now anyway’ . Now Zac Goldsmith has a much higher claim to be a man of principle than Boris so I think this article is a little premature .

  • Sorry, I see no contradiction in investing in an existing business whilst at the same time opposing what many consider to be an ill-conceived expansion. This is simply normal everyday business – just attend a few board meetings and AGM’s…

  • Richard Underhill 13th Dec '15 - 7:12pm

    Ed Davey | Sun 13th December 2015 – 2:05 pm Not all voters are main board directors.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Dec '15 - 7:13pm

    Sorry, not Ed Davey on this thread, Roland 13th Dec ’15 – 6:24pm

  • Richard – You don’t actually need to be a main board director to attend. Over the years, I’ve been invited as part of a team to present a business case and hence have seen directors ‘discussing’ my proposals…

    I sometimes think many are unware of how companies are actually run and have some rose tinted view of what goes on behind closed doors, in part due to the rarity of board disputes spilling out into the public eye.

    We see similar behaviours elsewhere in everyday life, for example in the recent case of Judy Murray’s planning application for a tennis academy in Dunblane; there were many local residents who supported the idea of the academy but not on the site Judy was proposing.

  • Richard Underhill 14th Dec '15 - 11:42am

    Roland 14th Dec ’15 – 9:25am In a large quoted company I worked for the Internal Audit manager was authorised to see the minutes of the main board. They were brief to put it mildly. We attended the AGM in work time because otherwise any press might have noticed the thin attendance. We knew that the management had spent a quarter of a million pounds on consultancy fees, but nothing about the outcomes until announced. Although government is often accused of wasting millions of pounds on computer systems, business also does. For some businesses the dullness is deliberate, as for some MPs, who rose without trace, John Major for instance, As Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer he persuaded the Prime Minister to join the Exchange Rate Mechanism, but the publicity went to the Chancellor who reversed the decision.

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