British lawmakers will have their first chance on Thursday to question former Prime Minister David Cameron about his controversial lobbying for collapsed financial group Greensill Capital, after months of scandal and revelations.
Former Tory leader, who was an adviser to the company and reportedly held lucrative stock options that are no longer worth anything, will appear before a parliamentary committee tasked with lobbying before the collapse from the loan company in March.
The company’s implosion threatens around 50,000 jobs at companies around the world that depended on its funding for their supply chains, and has reignited debate over the close ties between the upper echelons of UK politics and finance .
Cameron, in office from 2010 to 2016, has faced a series of damaging claims he improperly pressured former government colleagues to gain support for London society in distress at the start of the pandemic.
In documents released by the All-Party Treasury Committee on Tuesday, the former prime minister and staff in his office sent ministers and officials 45 emails, texts and WhatsApp messages last year regarding Greensill, bypassing official channels .
Cameron, who is due to appear before the committee from 1:30 p.m. GMT, has admitted to acting in error but denies any impropriety.
Finance Minister Rishi Sunak has previously said he “pressured” his staff to consider Cameron’s demands, but insisted they independently assess the proposals and ultimately reject them.
Last month, current Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a seasoned lawyer to investigate lobbying efforts for the cabinet.
– “Important lessons” –
After weeks of silence, Cameron released a lengthy statement last month saying he had violated “no code of conduct and no government rule.”
However, he acknowledged that there were “important lessons to be learned” and admitted that “communications with government should only be through the most formal channels, so there can be no room for a misinterpretation ”.
The controversy had escalated after Cameron granted the founder of the financial firm, Australian banker Lex Greensill, access to the interior of the Downing Street machine during his tenure in power.
Greensill, the 44-year-old son of sugarcane planters, appeared before the Treasury Committee on Tuesday and insisted he had taken “full responsibility” for the collapse of the business.
But he refused to be drawn to his ties to British government lobbying.
He told the panel of UK MPs that Greensill was “thinking about how we could develop and expand our brand as a company” when she hired Cameron.
The former Prime Minister had advised them on the growth of the company, by providing “an analysis” and a “geopolitical reflection”, he added.
Greensill founded the company, specializing in short-term business loans to pay their suppliers, in 2011.
It circumvented the strict regulations imposed on traditional banks and granted short-term business loans through a complex and opaque business model that ultimately sparked its demise.
When the company filed for insolvency two months ago, it had a range of customers, including the Steel Empire GFG Alliance, which employs thousands of workers around the world.
It emerged Tuesday that the UK regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, was officially investigating Greensill after allegations of a “potentially criminal nature”.
© 2021 AFP