Philip Christopher Ondaatje, the former Tory supporter, gave the Labour Party £2 million in January 2001 and £101,200 in March and April 2001. He was born in Sri Lanka and then moved to Canada. He set up the Pagurian Press, before becoming a banker and financier. He sold the Pagurian Corporation in 1988, at which time it had assets of $500 million and controlled other companies' assets worth over $1 billion.
He is the brother of the famous writer Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient. He was one of the founders and partners of Loewen, Ondaatje, McCutcheon & Co (LOM) in Toronto from 1970-88, which he bought out in 1992 and then sold in 1995. LOM was the first independent equity house in Canada. They operate in Corporate Finance, share trading and financial research.
He is a member of the Chester Yacht Club of Nova Scotia and the Mid Ocean Golf Club in Bermuda. His father was a wealthy tea planter until India gained independence in 1948.
In an article in 2002 on the subject of how 'Rich people are costing Britain millions in lost tax by not registering their houses in their own names', the Guardian reports that Ondaatje's second house (for 17 years in 2002) has been Glenthorne, a coastal mansion in north Devon. This 93-acre estate is registered in the name of the Offshore Exmoor Ltd.. The article claims that through the exploitation of legal loopholes 'wealthy individuals... appear to be enjoying the country's choicest property virtually tax-free'. The article also mentions Margaret Thatcher, Mohamed Al Fayed, David Potter, Tony Tabatznik, Lakshmi Mittal, Uri David, Rupert Allason, Wafic Said, Prince Bandar and Isaac Kaye as others who are not the registered owners of their homes who may benefit from such a loophole.
Ondaatje's fortune is estimated to be £60million. His first home is reported to be in London and he is of Sri Lankan origin with 'long Canadian residence'. He has 'non-domiciled' status in the UK. His potential savings on capital gains, inheritance tax and stamp duty is estimated to be in the region of £450,000.
- Evans, R & Hencke, D. (2002) 'Tax loopholes on homes benefit the rich and cost UK millions'. The Guardian 25th May 2002. Accessed 22nd May 2008
- The Guardian 'Special Investigation: Tax loopholes on homes benefit the rich and cost UK millions: Choice homes, virtually tax free'. 25th May 2002
- Patrons, Patrons, University of Buckingham, Accessed 03-September-2010