Tycoon helps Johnson mayor campaign

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One of the Reuben brothers, the secretive tycoons who were insulted by Ken
Livingstone during a well-publicised spat in 2006, has given £4,000 to Boris Johnson’s campaign to become mayor of London. The donation of two airline tickets by David R. Reuben to a fund-raising auction for Mr Johnson was made in late January and reported on the Electoral Commission website.

The Reubens, whose £3.5bn of personal wealth puts them ninth on Britain’s rich list, made a fortune through Trans World, the Russian aluminium group, during the chaotic years that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. More recently they have shifted their money into property and own an array of buildings around London.

In 2006 they fell out with Mr Livingstone over an impasse concerning the £4bn Stratford City development, in which they were partners with two other property companies, Stanhope and Westfield.

The trio suffered an “irreconcilable” disintegration in relations which threatened the future of the scheme, considered vital to the success of the 2012 Olympics.

This prompted Mr Livingstone to criticise the brothers, suggesting that they should “go back to Iran and try their luck with the ayatollahs”.

When told that the Reubens were born in Bombay, of Iraqi-Jewish descent, the mayor apologised – to the people of Iran.

The mayor also caused a row when he referred, in a debate at City Hall, to an article by Fortune magazine from 2000 about the Russian aluminium industry. The article prompted a libel action by the brothers, which ceased only when Fortune settled out of court, issued a full page clarification and reported that Kroll, the investigation firm, had given the brothers a clean bill of health.

The Reuben family are said to have social links with some members of the Conservative party, including Lord Marland, its treasurer. Michael Howard, the former leader of the party, has just been made a non-executive director of Northern Racing, which was bought by the brothers in April last year. Jamie Reuben, son of David Reuben, spent a brief time with the Conservatives on work experience.

Rumours first surfaced that the brothers were helping the Johnson campaign at the end of last year.

At that point no donation had been made, however. “It is true Jonathan Marland knows the Reubens and their sons, so they may have helped with a few names, but there has been no active participation from them,” Mr Johnson’s spokesperson said at the time.

This week a spokesman for Mr Johnson said the two tickets were auctioned in January as part of a fundraising event for the Henley MP’s campaign. She said she did not know any more details about the donation. On Friday she did not return the FT’s calls.

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