In recent days it has emerged that the links between senior government officials and Greensill Capital are under government investigation over possible ethical breaches. At the heart of the scandal is former Prime Minister, David Cameron, who is one of many involved in the scandal.
The company in question, Greensill Capital, is a financial services company based in the UK and was founded by Lex Greensill. Cameron joined the firm in August of 2018, but the company has since filed for insolvency protection.
Cameron’s position was of an advisory nature with no direct income. However, it has emerged that he was given stock options that some have speculated could be worth up to £70 million.
Lobbying is an act undertaken by many former politicians in which an individual or group attempts to influence government policy in favour of an employer or client. Although lobbying is legal, there have been laws aimed at curbing unethical exploitation of the act, especially in relation to previous public officials.
Current regulations state that “on leaving office, ministers will be prohibited from lobbying government for two years”.
Furthermore, former public officials are supposed to inform a special committee on any new jobs in order to maintain observation over any ethics violations. This committee, also known as Acoba, investigates whether or not the new job has been given to the minister as a type of reward for favourable policy.
These rules and procedures are focused on preventing abuses of power from those who have the right connections and significant influence.
Cameron’s private lobbying of current minister is under review for possible violation of conduct regulations.
It has been released that the Former Prime Minster sent text messages to the current Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, pushing for fast-tracked support for the firm under the COVID government-backed loan scheme. Further efforts were also made by Mr. Cameron with other high-ranking government officials in order to secure special benefits for the company.
Another major part of the investigation is surrounding Bill Crothers, who was the head of Whitehall procurement under Cameron. It was revealed that Mr. Crothers was granted permission to join the company whilst working in his position at the highest level of government. This prompted accusations of some type of quid-pro-quo agreement involving Cameron.
Furthermore, the procurement of contracts and subsequent hire of the former PM is under investigation to ensure this was not a form of repayment.
Labour has come out in criticism over the narrow scope of the investigation as they have branded it “the return of Tory sleaze”. A recent motion, introduced by Labour, to establish a full committee that will investigate this scandal has failed a parliamentary vote.
The findings of the investigations are to be released in June of this year. However, with no legal requirement to act on the findings, it will be up to the prime minister to decide on any further action needed.
Expect there to be a push from Labour for further rules and regulations surrounding lobbying opportunities for ministers in the future.