As a partner of Legatum Group and a British citizen it has been painful and disturbing to see some in the British media attack my investment firm, my partners, and the public charity, The Legatum Institute Foundation, we founded and support (and of which I am the Chairman). In amongst all the smears, half-truths and fantastical mischaracterisations about my friends and colleagues, one of our partners also received a personal threat last week.
Our websites have been attacked, our Wikipage is constantly being edited and we are told a dossier has been compiled and is now being circulated in the newsrooms of the UK.
What have we done to attract this onslaught of slander and vitriol? The answer appears to be that we touched the ‘third rail’ issue of Brexit. The Legatum Institute Foundation academics and experts are proposing solutions for the best exit from the EU, with core expenses funded by us and further support from external donors. As a result, Legatum has received the ire of the ‘reverse’ campaign which is now in full battle mode.
We now find our story has been hi-jacked in the last few weeks by a campaign that discredits anyone contributing ideas and resources for Britain’s success post Brexit.
I admit that we have made mistakes in not telling our own story well. And by not articulating our motives and aspirations clearly enough we have made ourselves vulnerable. We now find our story has been hi-jacked in the last few weeks by a campaign that discredits anyone contributing ideas and resources for Britain’s success post Brexit. So, let me state clearly where we stand on these accusations, and what is true and what is untrue:
- Falsehood one: Legatum is for a “hard Brexit”.
This is not true.
Truth: Neither Legatum, The Legatum Institute Foundation, Christopher Chandler nor any other Legatum partner took a public position on the prospective outcome of the Brexit referendum. We did not “back Brexit”. The only person at The Legatum Institute Foundation who did express a public opinion was Shanker Singham, who leads its trade research. He published an article expressing his personal views and stating that he planned to vote “Remain”! – see https://capx.co/a-brexiteer-reluctantly-for-remain/.
The Legatum Institute Foundation responded after the referendum result by doing what it does best: providing research and thinking on solutions that it believes can help Britain get the best outcome possible. If the referendum vote had gone the other way, The Legatum Institute Foundation would have worked just as hard to offer ideas and solutions for the nation’s best interests as part of the EU.
- Falsehood two: There are links between Legatum and Russia relating to Brexit.
This is false.
Truth: The Legatum Group and The Legatum Institute Foundation have no links to Russia relating to Brexit. The fact that there is not one shred of evidence for this nonsense did not stop the Mail on Sunday and others from printing this rubbish. Ironically, if the journalists were not driven by their agenda, they could have found out that The Legatum Institute Foundation has for years been at the forefront of raising the alarm about state-led propaganda, especially from Russia.
The Express Online has had the good grace to retract and apologise for its allegations – but others are still burying their heads in the sand.
- Falsehood three: The Legatum Institute Foundation was created as a Brexit only think tank.
This is not true.
Truth: The Institute was founded in 2007 around a social justice agenda to promote prosperity around the world. Its first publication was the Prosperity Index. It was formally opened in 2009 and it became a U.K.-registered charity in 2011. You need only to look on its website www.li.com to see the breadth of its research over the last decade. The fallout from the Brexit referendum is simply one of the latest issues in respect of which The Legatum Institute Foundation’s help has been sought.
- Falsehood four: Shanker Singham was hired to campaign for a hard Brexit.
This is not true.
Truth: The Legatum Institute Foundation hired Shanker Singham at the end of 2015 for his expertise on world trade long before the unexpected outcome of the referendum – and he started employment in January 2016. Prior to Shanker joining the Legatum Institute Foundation, Legatum Group funded his research evaluating the economic impact of behind-the-border distortions for many years. Interestingly, he described his decision to vote Remain on the record, in the article he authored, referred to above (https://capx.co/a-brexiteer-reluctantly-for-remain/).
- Falsehood five: Our partners Christopher Chandler (Legatum’s Founder) and Mark Stoleson (Legatum Partner) took Maltese passports after the referendum.
Truth: These applications, in August and July 2015, pre-dated the passing of the European Union Referendum Act 2015, and were made long before the (unexpected) referendum result in June 2016. Christopher and Mark would have had to have been clairvoyants to have foreseen the outcome of the Brexit referendum. Neither partner is a British national, and Brexit will pose an increased burden on them. Furthermore, holding more than one passport for ease of travel is not unusual in today’s economy and remains a legal and legitimate choice for many people.
We at Legatum welcome a healthy debate about Britain’s future. And, we are all prepared for the cut and thrust of politics – but truth should not be a casualty. Intimidating your opponents and drowning out discussion has the hallmarks of intellectual totalitarianism. We will continue running our global asset management business and continue creating and supporting some of the most innovative and impactful philanthropic and humanitarian efforts in the world, as we have done for over a decade. And we will continue supporting the great work of The Legatum Institute Foundation, and the remarkable team there executing on their mission “to create pathways from poverty to prosperity.”
We will continue running our global asset management business and continue creating and supporting some of the most innovative and impactful philanthropic and humanitarian efforts in the world, as we have done for over a decade.
No matter how intense the attacks are upon us, we are not going to be deflected from our goal of helping to improve the lives of the poor and marginalised. And at the Institute, we will continue to support its work in distilling signal from noise and surfacing the insights that lead people, communities and nations on the journey from poverty to prosperity.
Partner, Legatum Group
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