The Tories in Government but perhaps not in power, a Prime Minister talked up incessantly by the right-leaning press but not universally popular with the party’s MPs, divisions over Europe being barely papered over, and a steady drip-drip-drip of sleaze. Are we back in the 1990s already? As the doubts emerge over Theresa May’s leadership, and the Brexiteers continue to demand their own version of reality, it seems we are.
And into this already fluid situation has wandered Home Secretary Amber Rudd, or rather the deeply subversive Guardian has caused her to wander into it, as the paper has revealed “UK home secretary named as having been director of two Bahamas firms, while a co-director at another company was jailed over a false statement”. There was more.
“A fresh leak of tax haven data names the home secretary as having been a director of two companies in the Bahamas - a fact she did not refer to earlier this year when defending David Cameron over his father’s investment fund in the same country … The Guardian has also discovered new details about her previous career in venture capital during the boom and bust 1990s. One enterprise led her to become a co-director of Monticello, a company that was at the centre of a share ramping investigation”.
Share ramping? Here’s the Wiki definition: “also known as 'pump and dump' or 'book ramping', is where criminals influence the share price of a company and then take advantage of it. It is commonly perpetrated by bringing a company to the market with false expectations of its profitability or, alternatively, by buying shares in a company when the price is low and then starting a rumour that the company is being taken over. When the share price then rises, the shares are sold at a profit”.
Note the use of the word “criminals”. So what happened with Monticello? “[The company] became the centre of an investigation into share ramping after one of her co-directors, Mark O’Hanlon, gave an interview in January 2000 in which he made false claims about the company’s prospects … Monticello’s share price subsequently skyrocketed and trading on its shares was suspended”. Ms Rudd resigned her directorship five months later.
But her fellow director was rather less fortunate: “The episode led the Department of Trade and Industry to investigate, and in 2007 O’Hanlon was convicted of making a false statement and sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment. He was jailed again in June 2013 following an unrelated fraud conviction”. This is all most unfortunate.
Amber Rudd may have done nothing wrong. But she was a director of Monticello at the time when one of her co-directors’ actions led to him, at a later date, obtaining a criminal conviction. Moreover, she did not resign her directorship at the time O’Hanlon made his false statement. This may be in the category of “looks bad”, and no more. But Labour is already on her case, and even the most craven of the right-wing press will be too.
Back To The Future was, it seems, not just a movie franchise. More on this one later.