Via RT News (source): Boris Johnson, London’s flamboyant mayor, is facing scathing criticism over a £1 billion business deal with an ‘unethical’ Chinese firm. Critics suggest the firm was given preferential treatment throughout the tendering process.
The lucrative contract was secured with Advanced Business Park (ABP) to redevelop a large site on London’s Royal Albert Dock.
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Channel 4 News recently investigated the firm’s dealings on Chinese soil, and looked at whether the company had been party to favoritism during the application process.
Separate questions have also surfaced regarding the blurring of business and politics relating to donations from an Anglo-Chinese businesswoman who was an adviser to ABP.
Alistair Graham, a former chairman of the government’s Committee on Standards in Public Life, who has been vocal about the MPs’ expense scandal, told Channel 4 News the tendering process warranted a full, independent inquiry.
The development, overseen by Johnson, will take place on a publicly-owned stretch of land steeped in history.Commenting on the deal, Graham said the affair had the scent of a “semi-corrupt arrangement.”
Alluding to the business pact as a “sham process,” he warned the deal revealed UK companies did not face “a level playing field.” Graham further suggested that “intimate” financial transactions appeared to wield an unethical degree of influence.
In May 2013, the Greater London Authority offered ABP the contract to develop the 35-acre Royal Albert Dock site. The land, located opposite London’s City Airport, had previously been derelict.
Lauded by the London Mayor as “a beacon for investors,” ABP predicts the site will become a fruitful forum for Chinese firms operating in Britain.
The project is set to include over 3 million square feet of newly built office space, 845 residential apartments and leisure facilities. It is said to be the biggest Chinese property investment in Britain.
But Channel 4 News’ recent investigation raises concerns regarding the Chinese firm’s human rights legacy at home.ABP and their associates in China’s regional government were complicit in the eviction of local residents from their homes at one of their developments in Beijing, Channel 4’s probe revealed.
Amateur footage by a local resident shows demolition staff destroying a family’s home on Christmas Day, 2010.
Channel 4 reports it has seen wads of legal documents detailing the family’s efforts to secure fair compensation in the Chinese courts. But the family told the news agency they had been denied just or adequate compensation for the loss of their home.
Johnson admitted that neither he nor the Greater London Authority had considered ABP’s alleged human rights violations in China as part of their company evaluation.
The mayor said the firm’s human rights actions in China “wasn’t relevant to the tendering process.”
The Channel 4 News investigation also uncovered an unethically intimate relationship between ABP and London & Partners – the Mayor of London’s taxpayer funded organization founded to entice lucrative foreign investment to London.
Of particular note is the fact that London & Partners have shared office space with ABP in China for over nineteen months.
The suspected role of Xuelin Black, an Anglo-Chinese businesswoman and wife of Home Office minister Lord Michael Bates, in the business arrangement also raises awkward questions.
Between 2010 and 2012, Black funneled £162,000 in donations to the Conservative Party. Remarkably, however, since ABP secured the Royal Albert Dock contract, these lucrative donations have ceased.
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