Ashcroft, whose fortune of more than £1.1bn placed him at number 37 on the Sunday Times 2009 Rich List, is demanding libel damages from publisher Independent News and Media, the paper's business editor Stephen Foley and editor Roger Alton.
According to a writ filed with the High Court by lawyers Davenport Lyons, Ashcroft - who is a major backer of the Conservative Paryu - is seeking damages of up to £50,000 for the story from on 19 November last year.
A second story which appeared in The Independent the following day then repeated the libel, the writ claims.
Ashcroft, who is also deputy chairman of the Conservative Party and was made a life peer in 2000, is seeking an injunction banning repetition of the allegation at the centre of his legal battle.
Sarah Limbrick writes for Press Gazette