Last week, selected journalists were invited to Paul Rowen MP's Drake Street constituency office to view selected expenses.
Word on the street is that "Agent" Dave Hennighan was very strict in the remit. The chosen few were to have 1 hour. Guardian Media had a quick grope at the receipts. Rochdale Online took a little longer but the Rochdale Obscurer was a no-show. Was there a cat stuck up a tree being rescued by a boy scout, so the Obby's photographer was tied up and the lead journalist was on his way to Emma Street for a quote from Cyril?
1 hour to inspect over a million pounds of Paul Rown MP's salary, expenses and allowances?
And this is after the delay in an invite to view the documents. Rumour is that for the previous week the Lib Dem Drake Street office was like the last days of Saigon. Were the shredders going a full tilt? Was "Agent" Adam "the Power" sent to Staples to buy different sorts of pens to use on blank sheets of paper?
Apparently coffee and fag ash can be used to give that aged look to documents.
But we digress.
Last week's 60 minute pantomine was a distraction. Smoke and mirrors.
Some of the real questions were missed by Rochdale Online and Manchester Evening News.
Here is one question:
Where else has Paul Rowen MP derived an income?
Look no further than "They Work for You". The entry has JUST been updated (20/5/09). The old payments as a "consulatant" to other local authorities has gone but his Ugandan connection remains.
Paul is no shrinking violet when it comes to "charidee". But he remains rather coy about his Ugandan job.
Paul Rowen declares renumeration as a director of a Ugandan property company called Corinya. The amount he has received from this is not disclosed or whether he pays UK income tax on this pay. Why could this be relevant for Rochdale and the scrutiny of a British MP?
A quick shuftie on the Corinya website starts the intrigue. Although there is only one "Corinya Holdings" website, there are two distinct companies- one based in the UK, the other in Africa.
The website descibes itself thus-
"Corinya Holdings invests in and develops property in both the UK and Uganda".
To be absolutely accurate, it appears that Paul Rowen MP is a paid director of the Ugandan company and not the UK company. But the description of company activities is far from open and transparent. Are there clear "Chinese Walls" seperating day to day British and Ugandan activities?
The Ugandan Corinya does have a charidee element (a laudable children's home- following Cyril Smith's example of supporting the charity Rochdale Childer with its Moorland Home?).
On the Corinya Holdings' UK webite, click on the Uganda flag and follow the money.
Paul Rowen MP has his own Ugandan Page
The biog suggests Paul Rowen is expert in things Ugandan, as well as being an active Rochdale Rotarian. Paul's fellow Ugandan director Michael Muriithi is another active Rotarian in Kampala.
But which directors and shareholder link Corinya in Uganda with the UK?
Meet the Jungmayrs:
Hermann- Rotarian, former local authority planning officer, former Peel Holdings main board director and now Chairman of his own property investoment company. Keeping it in the family is Herman's wife Helen.
Then there is Hans Peter. Described in the biog as single, caring for his elderly mother who lives with him. The Corinya website also describes Hans Peter as a former Scout Leader. A fine upstanding Austrian citizen. He is also described as:
"residential estate manager for Corinya Holdings Limited and manages about 85 tenancies being responsible for all aspects of estate management and maintenance.
This includes Jung Bros Limited a company where he is a Director and jointly owns with Corinya Holdings".
So what has this to do with Paul Rowen and his Ugandan business activities?
First, the Coriya website suggests a very close connection with the work and activities of the Jungmaryrs' property development and investment in both the UK and Uganda.
Have any Uganda Rotary club dinners, journeys to the airport, or other such jolly opportunities to chew the fat with Paul Rowen MP, ever crossed the line between Uganda affairs to the interests of Coryina in the UK?
Paul Rowen before 2005 Cllr Paul Rowen was Leader of Rochdale Council and a Director of Rochdale Development Agency. When he became an MP, Paul Rowen kept his Rochdale Council seat (and allowances) for not one, but two, years.
In a recent 2am rant, Paul Rowen explained how he was instrumental in forming the new PFI/arms length "Impact Partnership" where a private consortium, for a tidy profit, now runs many Rochdale Council services (including planning and regeneration).
At the same time, Corinya was developing a considerble UK property portfolio during the market boom. This included a deal where Rochdale Council rents its Middleton Housing Office from Corinya.
Corinya also rents houses out in Rochdale borough .Hans Peter Jungmayr proudly declares his "management style has been accredited by the Probation Service and Rochdale Bond Board"
Is there any connection to Corinya and Paul Rowen MP's stout defense of the full pint and "seven days to save British Pubs"?
Corinya owns several northern pubs.
Well fancy that? "Million Pound Paul", Ugandan property investment, Roatarians and the Jungmayrs. Corinya's UK property portfolio that includes Rochdale Council offices and pubs.