3 May 2018

NZ businessman hits back at UK MP's Russian claims

10:18 am on 3 May 2018

A billionaire New Zealand businessman says a British MP's claims of links to Russian intelligence services are "complete nonsense".

British MP Bob Seely.

British MP Bob Seely, who has questioned NZ businessman Christopher Chandler's Russian links. Photo: Facebook / Bob Seely

The claim was made in the House of Commons by Bob Seely, who sits on a select committee that is currently looking into Russian interference.

Quoting French documents, Mr Seely said Christopher Chandler - the son of a Waikato beekeper - has been regarded as a threat to France by a spy service in that country since 2002.

He has urged Mr Chandler to provide an explanation, saying he could be an "innocent party".

In a statement, a spokesperson for Mr Chandler said the claims were "complete nonsense".

"Mr Chandler has never been associated directly or indirectly with Russian intelligence or the Russian state.

"Neither Christopher Chandler nor anyone at Legatum is aware of any such alleged "investigation" by the French authorities, not 16 years ago or at any time since".

"To be clear Christopher Chandler has never been approached at any time by the French or any other authorities regarding Russia and maintains a sterling record of ethical business practices earned over many decades."

Mr Chandler was born in Matangi, started in business with the family department store in Hamilton and is now based in Dubai.

He set up the investment firm Sovereign Capital in 1986 with his brother Richard, and at one point the brothers were the fourth largest investor in Gazprom, the Russian state-controlled gas company.

Mr Chandler founded the Legatum Institute think-tank in 2006. The institute said Mr Chandler had never been associated with Russian intelligence or the Russian state.