In Brief

Tories took £50,000 donation from drugs firm boss who ‘ripped off NHS’

Tax fraudster Amit Patel has been banned from holding company director role for breaking competition law

The Conservative Party accepted a £50,000 donation from a pharmaceutical boss who exploited a pricing rules loophole to hike up the cost of drugs sold to the NHS, it has emerged. 

The Times reports that Amit Patel donated the money to the Tories during the general election campaign in 2017 - a year after the newspaper revealed that his company Auden Mckenzie was among several businesses that had drastically inflated the prices of old drugs.

Following investigations by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Patel was banned last week from standing as director of any company for breaking competition law with the so-called “price gouging” exercise. 

In a separate charge, he also admitted tax fraud, paying nearly £15m to settle a case with HM Revenue & Customs over payments for fake invoices.

Auden Mckenzie was able to sell drugs at inflated prices by “exploiting a loophole in NHS pricing rules that meant drugs were no longer subject to a profit cap if they were ‘debranded’ and sold under a generic name”, The Times says. 

Under his ownership, the company bumped up the price of an oral steroid of which the firm was the sole manufacturer from 70p a packet to £66.

A Conservative Party spokesperson told the newspaper that all large donations, defined as single amounts over £7,500, “are received in good faith. They are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission, published by them, and comply fully with the law.”

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For a round-up of the most important stories from around the world - and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week’s news agenda - try The Week magazine. Start your trial subscription today –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

In the final weeks ahead of last December’s general election, The Guardian reported that the Tories had been handed “large donations worth 26 times the amount received by Labour”.

Boris Johnson’s party raised a total of more than £5.67m in large donations from donors including “the wife of a Russian businessman, property developers and a theatre producer”, the newspaper said.

Meanwhile, The Sunday Times reported that Johnson had blocked the publication of a report into Russian interference in British politics that named “nine Russian business people who gave money to the Conservative Party”.

Recommended

‘I will fix it’: Boris Johnson’s text to Sir James Dyson over tax issue
Sir James Dyson
Behind the scenes

‘I will fix it’: Boris Johnson’s text to Sir James Dyson over tax issue

Why does Queen Elizabeth have two birthdays?
Queen Elizabeth II
In Brief

Why does Queen Elizabeth have two birthdays?

European Super League collapses: a victory for football fans?
Chelsea fans protested against the Super League outside Stamford Bridge
View from the terraces

European Super League collapses: a victory for football fans?

A history of the peace walls in Belfast
A peace barrier along Springfield Road, Belfast
Fact file

A history of the peace walls in Belfast

Popular articles

What is Donald Trump doing now?
Donald Trump
In Depth

What is Donald Trump doing now?

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 21 April 2021
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 21 April 2021

London mayoral race 2021: who will win?
Night Tube Sadiq Khan
In Depth

London mayoral race 2021: who will win?