The British Bangladeshi Chamber of Commerce (BBCC) has called for an investigation after its former chairman tried to claim a personal donation to the Conservative Party from the chamber’s expenses budget.
According to the Mail on Sunday, multi-millionaire tycoon Iqbad Ahmed, founder of the Seamark frozen food empire, tried to bill a donation of £12,000 to the chamber when he was chairman of the trade body in 2011.
A document listing the expenses claimed by Mr Ahmed and seen by the Mail, reveal claims for hotel stays, meals – including a £252 lunch at the exclusive London eatery The Ivy – as well as a demand for the £12,000 donation to be reimbursed.
When shocked members of the BBCC refused to approve the donation saying they were an apolitical organization, Mr Ahmed is said to have sent in a legal notice demanding an immediate transfer of the funds.
The 58-year-old has an estimated personal fortune of £90 million and has reportedly donated a total of £26,000 to the Tories, which includes the £12,000 to the Party headquarters and a further £14,000 to Chancellor George Osborne’s constituency of Tatton, near Manchester, where Mr Ahmed resides.
His munificence has been richly rewarded – in 2007 Mr Ahmed was appointed to a Tory think tank which promotes entrepreneurship and investment and was awarded an OBE for “services to international trade”.
Now, the president of the BBCC, Matab Chowdhury has written to Mr Osborne, expressing his “shock” at Mr Ahmed’s claim and asking the Chancellor to “clarify the legal status of this donation”.
Mr Ahmed’s political donation was one of a number of rejected claims which also included a £338 bill for dinner at the Cinnamon Club in London, and a £27.55 “entertaining” claim at a Nando’s restaurant.
Mr Ahmed has refused to comment whilst the Conservative Party has said that the dispute is a “private matter” between Mr Ahmed and the BBCC.
Sylhet-born Mr Ahmed moved to the UK in 1971 when he was 15. After university he and brothers Kamal and Bilal set up Seamark Group a multi-national food processing company with operations in the UK, US and Bangladesh.