LONDON — One of the biggest donors to Britain’s Conservative Party is suspected of secretly funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to the party from a Russian account, according to a bank alert filed to Britain’s national law enforcement agency.
The donation, of $630,225, was made in February 2018 in the name of Ehud Sheleg, a wealthy London art dealer who was most recently the Conservative Party’s treasurer. The money was part of a fund-raising blitz that helped propel Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his party to a landslide victory in the 2019 general election.
But documents filed with the authorities last year and reviewed by The New York Times say that the money originated in a Russian account of Mr. Sheleg’s father-in-law, Sergei Kopytov, who was once a senior politician in the previous pro-Kremlin government of Ukraine. He now owns real estate and hotel businesses in Crimea and Russia.
“We are able to trace a clear line back from this donation to its ultimate source,” Barclays bank wrote in a January 2021 alert to the National Crime Agency. The bank, which maintained some of the accounts used in the transaction, flagged the donation as both suspected money laundering and a potentially illegal campaign donation.