Crypto lobbyist donated £500k to Conservatives before UK’s ‘crypto hub’ move

The Conservative Party received a £500,000 donation from a British crypto investor two months before the government pledged to make the UK “the very best place in the world” to build crypto businesses.

Christopher Harborne, a Thailand-based businessman, made the payment on 9 February.

The government two months later announced its intention to turn the UK into a “global hub” for the crypto industry.

This new enthusiasm for crypto took some in the industry by surprise given warnings from the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England over the dangers of cryptocurrencies.

Andrew Bailey, governor of the independent Bank of England, has called cryptocurrencies “the new front line” for criminal scams and has warned that they have “no intrinsic value”. Since the government’s April announcement, cryptocurrencies have gone into meltdown with the price of bitcoin falling by more than half.

The BoE declined to comment on the matter.

The Conservative Party said that there was no connection between Harborne’s donation and the government’s backing of crypto. “Government policy is in no way influenced by Party donations – they are entirely separate,” a Conservative spokesperson said.

Harborne did not respond to requests for comment.

Tulip Siddiq MP, Labour’s shadow economic secretary, described the donation as “a shocking revelation”.

“Instead of protecting the public by properly regulating the crypto market, it appears the Conservatives have been looking after the interests of their wealthy donors.

“This Government’s Wild West approach to crypto has threatened the security of people’s savings, and crypto-related crime such as fraud and money laundering has hit record levels.”

The UK Treasury, which is responsible for planning around the crypto hub, was contacted for comment.

In recent years Harborne has become active in the crypto world. In 2020, he was named in EU filings as an accredited lobbyist for the Digital…


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