Allegation that Mr Vaz failed to register a remunerated directorship
with General Mediterranean Holding or its subsidiary
813. Mr Vaz says that in 1999 he was offered,
and accepted, a non-executive directorship of General Mediterranean
Holding (UK) Ltd at an annual fee of $20,000. Mr Vaz made a Register
entry to that effect in a letter dated 28 April 1999. That entry
did not, however, appear in any regular updated printout of the
Register since he withdrew it on 19 May 1999, seven days before
the next print-out was published. Mr Vaz's explanation to the
then Registrar for this action was that he had resigned from the
directorship before receiving any remuneration from, or participating
in a board meeting of, the company.
814. The information provided to me by Mr Vaz
concerning the timing of the offer to him in 1999, and his acceptance
of the directorship was confirmed by the company secretary.
815. The only documentary information provided
to me about this appointment is an Annual Report and Accounts
of the company for the year to 31 December 1998, published after
1 July 1999, which records Mr Vaz as having been a director during
1998 (ie well before Mr Vaz says he was offered
a place on the board). Mr Vaz says this listing was the result
of an error. I also obtained a Twenty Years commemorative company
brochure for General Mediterranean Holding Group covering the
period 1979-1999, which also lists Mr Vaz as a non-executive director.
I have asked for board minutes, letters of appointment, invoices
for these printed reports or notification documents but neither
Mr Vaz nor the company has provided them.
816. Two former employees of the company, Mr
Kennady and Mr Sackville, say Mr Vaz was paid by the company.
I found Mr Kennady and Mr Sackville credible witnesses on this
matter. Both independently said that others in the company with
information about payments to Mr Vaz would be, or were, afraid
to speak out. I wished to interview Mr Auchi, the Chairman of
General Mediterranean Holding, to hear his account first-hand,
but he declined to see me.
817. It is a matter of surprise and concern that
General Mediterranean Holding, a large group with many distinguished
non-executive directors on its group board or on the boards of
subsidiaries, should be unable or unwilling either to provide
documentary information to settle this conflict of evidence or
adequately to explain how Mr Vaz's name appeared in company publications
as a non-executive director at times when they say this was not
the case. This is most unsatisfactory.
alleging that Mr Vaz failed to register a donation from a company
(Caparo) owned by Lord Paul
818. In 1993 Mr Vaz failed to register the first
donation of £3,000 to his office from Lord Paul (Caparo)
within the time allowed by the rules. His entry in 1994 was 19
months late. Mr Vaz's initial explanation, namely that no Register
was published in 1994, was both inaccurate and spurious. He was
under a duty to register the donation within 28 days; it would
then have appeared in the next updated Register printout. His
failure to do so meant that his financial relationship with Lord
Paul remained concealed for over a year and a half.
819. In 1994 Mr Vaz was also late in registering
the second donation of £8,777, but on that occasion only
by a few weeks. Mr Vaz described these two donations as, in effect,
a single gift made in two instalments. Given the long gap between
the payments, and the information in the schedule provided by
Lord Paul, I do not accept this explanation. I regard it as disingenuous.
At the very least Mr Vaz should have sought advice on the matter.
He did not do so.
171 In Ms Fernandes's letter to Mr Gresty dated 24
May 2001. Back
Ibid Annex V15A. Back