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A Tortoise File

Greg Barker: The lord’s work

The days of the Russian oligarch in London are numbered. What fate awaits the enablers – those well-connected people who worked for and provided services to wealthy Russians? This is the story of one of them.

Greg Barker: The lord’s work

First published
Monday 11 April 2022

Last updated
Sunday 10 April 2022

Why this story?

Londongrad is over for now, it seems. Many of the assets of Russian oligarchs in and around the capital are frozen. One oligarch complained in a recent interview with The Times that being sanctioned was like being under house arrest. Mikhail Fridman said he was forced to dine alone at home, albeit in a house which he reportedly bought for £65 million in 2016. Of course wealthy Russians didn’t make lives for themselves in the UK on their own. Their paths were made immeasurably smoother by an army of enablers: the bankers, accountants, PR agents and estate agents who benefited financially from London becoming a centre for Russian wealth. This is a story about one of those enablers. After a career as a Tory MP and a minister Greg Barker was elevated to the House of Lords by David Cameron. As Lord Barker of Battle he became chairman of En+, one of the biggest aluminium producers in the world. The majority shareholder at the time was Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire oligarch who was close to Putin. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Deripaska was sanctioned by the British government and trading in shares of En+ on the London Stock Exchange were suspended. Lord Barker has stepped down from the company. This story raises important questions about what deal Britain struck with the oligarchs to make London an attractive place for Russian billionaires? And what deal did Britain strike with itself to turn a blind eye when the reality became inconvenient? Jasper Corbett, Editor