Jacob Rees-Mogg defends his investment firm over Russian holdings
Top Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg has leapt to the defence of his elite investment firm after it emerged the company boasts a string of Russian holdings - including those on US sanctions lists.
The leader of a 60-strong group of pro-Brexit Tory MPs insisted Somerset Capital Management - which he co-founded - would be open to legal action if it based its business on his “political opinions”.
It comes after he slammed Moscow in the wake of the Salisbury nerve agent attack and urged Theresa May to impose a freeze on Russian assets in Britain.
Asked about the holdings today, Mr Rees-Mogg insisted: “We can’t run our investments on my political opinions”.
Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, the Somerset MP added: “Somerset Management is an emerging markets investment management company.
“We manage clients’ money - it's not our own money, it's clients’ money.”
And the European Research Group chair argued: "You're assuming I make money from these investments. I don't. These aren't my investments....
“Our job is to invest in emerging markets for our clients using their money. We have to do that as well as we can under the law.
“We would be opening ourselves up to legal actions if we decided that my political opinions should influence the investments. That would be quite improper."
The rich Tory MP still owns a fifth of Somerset Capital Management - which manages some £7.5bn for the world’s elite - but insisted he no longer runs any of its investments.
Its Russian holdings are worth some £217m according to the latest City valuations, the Mail on Sunday reported overnight.
They include two firms blacklisted by the US and others controlled by Russian money-men close to President Vladimir Putin.
There is no suggestion Somerset Capital Management or Mr Rees-Mogg has done anything illegal.