A billionaire US hedge fund executive and major donor to US Republican candidates invested £1m in a British company owned by a Conservative peer who was close at the time to the prime minister, Boris Johnson.
Kenneth Griffin, the founder of Citadel, one of the world’s largest hedge funds, made a personal investment in 2020 in a company founded by Lord Howard of Rising, a Conservative peer whose Westminster mansion served as a leadership campaign. Johnson’s “nerve center” a year ago.
Lynton Crosby, the Australian strategist considered the political brain behind the election campaigns for Johnson, David Cameron and Theresa May, joined the company, Dalbini Limited, as a director three months after Griffin’s investment, according to in Companies House records.
Sometimes referred to in press reports as the “Wizard of Oz” for his successful election campaigns, Crosby was brought back as an adviser to the Tory party to help. when Johnson’s premiership was in crisis amid the Partygate scandal, which revealed that many parties were held in and around 10 Downing Street during the height of the Covid pandemic. Crosby came under scrutiny during this period for his CT Group’s lobbying on behalf of clients. He denied any potential conflict of interest.
The company’s accounts suggest that around £560,000 of the funds invested by Griffin and Howard were used in March 2022. The records do not provide further information on how the money was spent.
The hedge fund executive made the investment in Dalbini a year after he expanded his London presence by buying a Grade II*-listed Georgian mansion in the heart of Westminster for £95m.
A spokesman for Griffin, one of the world’s richest men, said he made the personal investment in Dalbini as part of a plan to build “one or more media ventures” in the UK “to compete with Guardian and other news organizations” .
Crosby, speaking on behalf of Dalbini, said in a statement that the company is now dormant and that the investment opportunities it is exploring are “entirely commercial in nature”. He added that Dalbini “has no political connection whatsoever”.
The investment raises questions, however, as to why Griffin – who has an estimated net worth of $35bn – would personally invest in a company founded by a British peer with close connections to key political figure.
Griffin was the third-largest donor in the US midterm elections last year, donating about $73m to Republican candidates. He also donated millions of dollars to the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, who is running for the Republican nomination for president. It’s not yet clear who Griffin — who doesn’t support Donald Trump — will turn against in the upcoming race for the Republican nomination.
The billionaire made the £1m investment in Dalbini through a private company, Media Holdings LLC. A person close to him said it was a “purely personal” investment and had nothing to do with his hedge fund firm Citadel.
The spokesperson described Howard as a personal friend of the hedge fund executive for many years.
In an apparent breach of parliamentary rules, Howard, a Eurosceptic member of an English aristocratic family, did not reveal full details about his involvement with Dalbini on the House of Lords register of interests until he was contacted by the Guardian.
The rules require members of the House of Lords to disclose details about the nature of a company’s business if its name does not appear. However, while Dalbini was active, Howard failed to divulge the details.
When first contacted, Howard described Dalbini’s business activities as “confidential”. About a month later his office amended his disclosure.
“Once you raised the lack of clarity on Dalbini’s activities in Lord Howard’s register of interests in the House of Lords, the register was updated. He appreciates you bringing it to his attention,” the secretary wrote. said Howard in an email.
He added: “Dalbini is researching possible opportunities but there is no investment.”