The 2012 New Year Honours list, published on New Year’s Eve, is set to commend a convicted fraudster and founder of the Heron Group, a multi-million pound property empire, with a CBE for his services to charity.
The ex-con tycoon, Gerald Ronson, 72, was once the 14th richest man in the UK with a property empire worth over half a billion pounds. Founded at age 17, his portfolio includes property throughout Europe, including the famous London City skyscraper, the Heron Tower.
In 1990 he was ordered to serve a 6 month custodial sentence and fined £5 million for his part in the ‘Guinness Four’ scandal.
Mr Ronson was convicted of fraud for inflating the price of shares in the drinks company, Guinness, during a fierce takeover battle by Scottish group, Distillers.
Despite the criminal conviction, Mr Ronson will be honoured for his services to charity, with the CBE intended to show support and gratitude on behalf of the state for those who have made an outstanding contribution to Britain over the last 12 months.
Gerald Ronson, maintains that he did not act dishonestly in the fraud scam and has donated £30 Million (GBP) of his own money and raised over £100 Million (GBP) for charities including the Prince’s Trust.
Despite Mr Ronson donating all his shares in his property empire to Great Ormond Street Hospital and the National History Museum, some sceptics claim that such an accolade is a rehabilitation prize.
The knighthood has fuelled the gossip between Conservative and Labour MPs.
The Tories claim to have acknowledged those who support Cameron’s charitable aims for the ‘Big Society’, but Labour MP’s remain dubious about rewarding the disgraced property mogul.
John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw and Treasury Select Committee member claimed notable accolades for ex-criminals are a “disgrace” and also believes such awards show that “…when millions of families are struggling to get by, it’s the Tories’ friends in the City who get the rewards”.
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