1st November 2010

Andrew Mitchell In Trouble Over Links With Choc Finger

Andrew Mitchell, the international development secretary, is in the news over revelations that he intervened on behalf of the multimillionaire cocoa dealer known as 'Choc Finger', after receiving funding from him while in opposition.

'Choc Finger' is the nickname of Anthony Ward, whose hedge fund Armajaro Holdings donated £40,000 to Mitchell's parliamentary office between 2006 and 2009. The firm donated £50,000 separately to the Conservative party in 2004.

Armajaro Holdings had been banned from trading in western Ghana, over allegations of smuggling. Cocoa is often smuggled over the western border of Ghana to take advantage of better prices in the Ivory Coast, which results in lost tax revenue for the Ghanaian government.

After Choc Finger requested his help, Andrew Mitchell phoned the British high commissioner in Ghana and his officials in his office contacted the Foreign Office to say that the matter required "urgent attention". This is despite the fact that his department is responsible for promoting development and the reduction of poverty, not promoting British business interests overseas.

The trading ban on Armajaro was then lifted.

Andrew Mitchell now faces an investigation after being referred to the parliamentary standards watchdog.

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