But party insists funds were declared and in line with the law
The Alliance Party has confirmed it accepted more than £40,000 in donations from a drugs company that had links to Russia.
The same firm, founded by a Swedish billionaire philanthropist and explorer who was an honorary Russian consul and lives in Switzerland, also gave more than £443,000 to the Liberal Democrats.
Frederik Paulsen is worth an estimated £3bn and is currently the chairman emeritus of Ferring Pharmaceuticals.
Electoral Commission records show that the Alliance Party received donations of £20,721.09 in 2017 and £21,561.02 in 2018 from Ferring (Ireland) Limited, whose address was in Dublin.
A party spokesperson told Sunday Life: “Alliance received donations in 2017 and 2018 from Ferring. These were corporate donations, not from any individual connected with Ferring.
“Due diligence confirmed they fully complied with Electoral Commission rules and they were declared and published in line with the law and also on our party website, as with all large donations. We have received no further donations from the company since.”
Ferring Pharmaceuticals focus on reproductive medicine and maternal health but among their range of products they also market drugs used in gender-identity clinics to delay puberty among adolescents.
Frederik Paulsen stepped back from the day-to-day running of the business a number of years ago to focus on his wide range of philanthropic projects.
Among them was the funding of fertility clinics in Russian cities in an attempt to reverse the country’s population decline, as well as a £6.6m project to rid the island of South Georgia, a British overseas territory, of rats by dropping poison from helicopters.
But it is as an explorer, particularly of the polar regions, that the 71-year-old made a name for himself.
His polar expeditions involved Russian technology and expertise, which led to close links with the country.
He was an honorary Russian consul in Lausanne and a member of the Russian Geographical Society and was presented with the Russian Order Of Friendship by President Vladimir Putin.
Frederik Paulsen helped fund a £1.3m mission to the ocean floor under the North Pole in 2007.
Russia wants to claim a vast swathe of territory in the Arctic, and one of the two submersibles on the trip planted a Russian flag on the seabed.
Electoral Commission rules ban direct donations from foreigners who are not on the electoral roll. But foreign-owned companies can donate if they are registered in the UK and are actively trading.
But days after Russian troops invaded Ukraine Frederik Paulsen said he wanted to step down from his volunteer position representing Russia in Switzerland.
The Russian Honorary Consulate said: “Frederik Paulsen has decided to close the honorary consulate with immediate effect and to interrupt its activities until further notice.”
There is no suggestion Ferring (Ireland) Ltd has any existing ties to Vladimir Putin.
A spokesman said: “As we witness the esclating humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, Ferring continues to stand by the people impacted and support those in need.
"As a healthcare company with a purpose to build families and help people live better lives, we are supporting three major emergency relief efforts…
"As part of a broader support plan, we are actively pursuing ways in which to donate Ferring medicines to help patients and support the healthcare systems which are under enormous pressure…
"We commit to continue our support for the global relief effort and for our patients, colleagues and partners suffering as a result of these devastating events.”
Last month, the Alliance Party leader, Naomi Long, warned Northern Ireland risked becoming a haven for Russian-linked “dark money” as a result of the power-sharing Stormont Executive being hamstrung.
Speaking at her party’s annual conference, Mrs Long said she had met with British Home Office ministers about Westminster legislation to strengthen “unexplained wealth orders” which would allow for assets of billionaire oligarchs to be seized.
Mrs Long added it would also “increase transparency of shell companies and trusts, as part of the sanctions against Russia”.