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Oct
31

THE SUNDAY TIMES ‘ARMAJARO’ DOCS (2)

THE LONDON SUNDAY TIMES 31–10-10

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Anthony Ward is viewed as a consummate commodities dealer with an appetite for risk
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The campaign paid dividends. On July 12 Westcott reported in an internal memo (also sent to William Hague, the foreign secretary), that the Ghanaian vice-president was going to look into the ban “immediately”.

By August Westcott was optimistic that the ban would be lifted. Knowing Mitchell’s interest, he wrote to the DFID to share the good news. He said in his email: “I raised the urgent need to (and advantages of) raising the ban on Armajaro purchasing cocoa in Ghana’s border region.” He said a draft decision made by the cocoa board lifting the ban meant the matter should soon be “sorted”.

The ban was finally lifted in September, except in the district where the smuggling originated. A source close to Armajaro said it took concerted action against smuggling.

The employee, a contractor who was exposed offering to help to buy cocoa for the undercover reporter in western Ghana, was a rogue operator, said the source.

It is not clear why Ward chose to write to Mitchell at the DFID, when he would probably have realised the matter would have been better directed to the Foreign Office. He declined to comment last week.

Armajaro Holdings made four donations to Mitchell of £10,000 between August 2006 and December 2009, all of which the MP declared. It also made a £50,000 donation to the Tories in May 2004.

A DFID spokesman said: “The letter from Armajaro was dealt with in accordance with normal ministerial procedures and it was immediately made clear that the Conservative party had previously received donations from the company … The matter was referred to the FCO [Foreign Office] through the normal channels.”

The Foreign Office insisted this weekend it had not fast- tracked Ward’s request for help.

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Hungry for risk
Anthony Ward is viewed as a consummate commodities dealer with meticulous attention to detail and an appetite for risk.

He co-founded Armajaro in 1998 and has built it up into one of the biggest commodity traders in the world. Most famously he has bought up vast chunks of the world cocoa market.

Educated at Marlborough college, Wiltshire he is renowned for his forensic research — even sending staff to west Africa to count cocoa pods to help predict the size of the crop.

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