Oleg Deripaska, the Russian billionaire who until recently owned Birmingham vanmaker LDV, says he considering breaking his links with Britain.
The 41-year-old aluminium magnate has seen his fortune shrink in the global recession and has been at the centre of controversy since it emerged he had entertained Peter (now Lord) Mandelson on his yacht off Corfu when the Labour politician was EU commissioner with responsibility for metal tariffs.
In an interview with Newsnight on BBC 2 to be shown on Tuesday night, Mr Deripaska said: “I’m not sure I will have any links with Britain in the future.”
Speaking in Russia, he said despite owning two luxury homes in Britain, he has not been in the country for more than a year and does not currently hold a British visa.
His disillusionment stems in part from the Goverment’s unwillingness to save LDV, which he acquired via his Russian-based Gaz commercial vehicle conglomerate in 2006, from bankruptcy.
Mr Deripaska was reported to fly to and from the factory in a helicopter owned by his friend and fellow Russian oligarch, Roman Abramovitch.
LDV was forced to cease production of its popular Maxus range of vans and light trucks at its Washwood Heath plant last December as the recession and credit crunch destroyed the commercial vehicle market. Gaz, which was facing financial problems of its own, was forced to stop funding the British operation, despite having invested millions of pounds in the Birmingham factory.
The Russian group favoured a management buy-out led by Gaz executive Erik Eberhardson but the bid failed to secure funding. Attempts to sell the vanmaker to a third party also failed and the business went into administration with the loss of more than 800 jobs in June.
Lord Mandelson, by then back in Government as business secretary, was believed to be distancing himself from negotiations with Gaz because of his earlier links with Mr Deripaska.
Mr Deripaska was asked whether the Government should have rescued LDV, a business he described as “a good company, good people and complex manufacturing”. He replied: “It’s their decision - I can’t judge.”
Mr Deripaska denied he had benefited from his friendship with Lord Mandelson and the business secretary says he never did “any favours” for the Russian.
The EU commission has said a decision taken in 2005 to remove heavy import tariffs that seemed to favour Mr Deripaska’s company Rusal was taken without Lord Mandelson’s personal intervention. Shadow chancellor George Osborne was also a guest on Mr Deripaska’s yacht last summer and has denied claims he tried to solicit a donation for the Conservative Party.