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Israeli billionaire drawn into UK 'cash for favours' scandal over meeting with minister

A firm owned by Idan Ofer donated £10,000 to the Conservative Party [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 June, 2020

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A UK minister is facing fresh scrutiny over a meeting held with an Israeli businessman in 2018.


A UK minister embroiled in a "cash for favours" scandal is facing fresh scrutiny over a meeting held with a wealthy Israeli businessman with interest in a multibillion-pound project he was handling.

Secretary of State for Housing Robert Jenrick is already under pressure over allegations that he rushed through a £1bn development in order to help a wealthy Conservative Party donor save £45 million.

According to documents seen by The Guardian, Jenrick met with billionaire Israeli mining heir Idan Ofer in March 2018 while he served as exchequer secretary to the Treasury. The meeting between Jenrick and Ofer, the ultimate owner of UK mining firm Cleveland Potash, happened while Jenrick was determining whether to offer state support for a new potash mine being built by Sirius Minerals.

The new mine would have posed serious competition for Ofer's own mining operations. The application for funding was later rejected by the government.

Jenrick's office says the minister recused himself from decisions on the funding application, however the Guardian report claims that he retained oversight of the financial support application for at least six months after the meeting with Ofer.

A year after the meeting, Ofer-owned firm Quantum Pacific UK Corporation, donated £10,000 to the Conservative Party.
The donation was the firm's first and only donation to the ruling party.

A spokesman for Ofer was quoted by The Guardian as saying that the pair "discussed the business environment in the UK" in March 2018, adding that the £10,000 donation was made at the behest of Conservative Friends of Israel. 

Ofer said the donation was not discussed with Jenrick, who is a member of the pro-Israel group.

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