Conservative Party reveals names of backers as Britain's loan scandal simmers on

Britain's opposition Conservative Party on Friday revealed the names of backers that lent it nearly 16 million pounds (US$28 million; Ђ23 million) to help fund the 2005 election campaign.

Despite revealing the sources of the funding, the party was accused of having something to hide after admitting paying back another 5 million pounds (US$8.7 million; Ђ7.2 million) to keep the names of other lenders some living overseas secret.

The highest loan revealed was made by the party's former treasurer, Lord Ashcroft, who lent the Conservatives 3.6 million pounds (US$6.3 million; Ђ5.2 million).

In Britain it is illegal for political parties to receive donations from foreigners. However loans, providing they are made at commercial rates, can be made.

Conservative chairman Francis Maude told the British Broadcasting Corp. that "some of them may not be resident in Britain.".

"But there's nothing wrong with that," he added.

His Labour counterpart, Ian McCartney, accused the Tories of using loans to deliberately sidestep the ban on foreign donations.

"By failing to provide these details the Conservatives and David Cameron are fueling suspicions that they have even more to hide," he said.

The decision to reveal the 13 loans came after democracy watchdog the Electoral Commission called on all parties to reveal sources of funding following revelations that four backers of the ruling Labour Party had been nominees for the House of Lords Britain's upper chamber.

The revelations angered many, and some critics have called for Prime Minister Tony Blair's resignation. He denies he gave peerages or other honors in exchange for loans or gifts to the Labour Party, as some opponents have alleged, reports AP.


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