Foreign Office Fails to Disclose Vital Information on Billion-Pound Developing Countries Fund
Mystery remains around a Government fund that invested heavily in developing countries where a company run by Conservative Party donor also has significant investments
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The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is being issued with a decision notice for refusing to provide documents on how £1.3 billion was awarded to developing countries.
Byline Times reported in November that the Government’s Prosperity Fund had invested heavily in developing countries where Ashmore, a company run by Conservative Party donor Mark Coombs, had significant investments.
At the time, the FCDO said the funds had been allocated before Coombs’ donations. However, although the overall budget was allocated beforehand, this was not the case when it came to awarding specific country bids with funds.
Back in October, through a Freedom of Information request, the FCDO was requested to provide documents showing a list of all bids presented at the time as well as the result of the assessment that was carried out detailing how each bid performed on each of assessment criteria. This information would have been essential to determine whether the funds were allocated following a clear and fair process.
However, months on, the FCDO has not provided the information or any justification for failing to do so.
In December, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) contacted the FCDO urging the public authority to respond to the request.
The ICO has now issued a decision notice recording the governmental department’s breach. According to the notice, “it is clear that the FCDO did not deal with the request for information in accordance with Freedom of Information Act”.
The notice adds that “the Commissioner finds that the FCDO has breached section 10(1) by failing to respond to the request within 20 working days”.
However, 57 working days after the request was first submitted, a spokesperson for the FCDO said that “we will respond to this Freedom of Information request in due course”.
The Prosperity Fund is a UK investment programme designed to boost the economy of developing countries. It allocated most of its funding to so-called petrostates.
Ashmore manages investment portfolios specialised in developing countries with a great focus on the fossil fuel industry.