politics

UK to Investigate Greensill Capital as Former PM David Cameron Faces Criticism Over Lobbying

LEON NEAL/ AFP via Getty Images
  • Cameron, who led the U.K. from 2010 to 2016, reportedly sent text messages about Greensill to ministers including Finance Minister Rishi Sunak.
  • The investigation will be led by legal expert Nigel Boardman.
  • Cameron began working as an adviser to Greensill in August 2018.

LONDON — The U.K. government on Monday announced plans to open an independent investigation into Greensill Capital following former Prime Minister David Cameron's efforts to lobby ministers on behalf of the financial firm.

"The Cabinet Office is commissioning an independent review on behalf of the prime minister to establish the development and use of supply chain finance and associated activities in government and the role Greensill played in those," Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesperson told reporters, according to Reuters.

"This independent review will also look at how contracts were secured and business representatives engaged with government," he said, adding the prime minister wanted it to be concluded promptly.

The investigation will be led by legal expert Nigel Boardman, a former partner at Slaughter and May law firm and a non-executive director at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Greensill, which fell into administration last month, claims on its website that it "unlocks finance so the world can put it to work" and in 2020, it issued over $143 billion in finance to over 10 million customers.

The London-headquartered firm, in which Japan's SoftBank invested around $1.5 billion, filed for administration after its insurance provider refused to renew $4.6 billion of insurance for its loans.

Its collapse has put tens of thousands of steelmaking jobs at risk in the U.K.

In 2010, Cameron promised to tackle "secret corporate lobbying," warning it could become the next political scandal.

Cameron's plea for help

Cameron, who led the U.K. from 2010 to 2016, sent text messages about Greensill to ministers including Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, according to a response to a freedom of information request.

Sunak confirmed on Friday that Cameron contacted him informally by phone, saying that the matter was passed on to the appropriate officials.

Greensill reportedly wanted a government loan scheme to be changed or expanded in scope so that it could access cheap loans from the Treasury.

Sunak added that it was right that the "Treasury listened to — and gave due consideration to — all potential options to support businesses to survive the pandemic."

Cameron and Greensill founder Lex Greensill also met Health Secretary Matt Hancock to discuss a payment scheme for the NHS, according to a report from The Sunday Times newspaper.

Cameron began working as an adviser to Greensill after leaving office in August 2018.

The former Conservative Party leader has denied that he broke any rules over the matter nor any code of conduct. In his first comments in weeks over the scandal, Cameron on Sunday conceded that he should have contacted government ministers through formal channels, saying there were "important lessons to be learnt."

Cameron said he had been trying to get money for Greensill through a government-backed emergency loans scheme that was set up to help firms affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The government declined to support Greensill through its "Covid Corporate Financing Facility."

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