Labour has renewed calls for the Cabinet Office to investigate David Cameron’s connections with Greensill Capital and how the collapsed finance firm’s Australian founder was welcomed into the heart of government.
The shadow chancellor, Anneliese Dodds, and the shadow Cabinet Office minister, Rachel Reeves, have written to Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, posing a string of questions about the affair.
Fresh concerns were raised about Greensill’s access to senior decision-makers in the Cameron government on Tuesday after Labour produced a business card showing Lex Greensill as “senior adviser, prime minister’s office,” and giving a No 10 email address.
Sources close to Greensill confirmed that the card was genuine, saying it dated from a period when the financier was acting in a formal role as a senior adviser to Cameron.
“These revelations raise further questions about the special access provided to the heart of government for Greensill and its linked companies,” said Dodds. “The public have a right to know that their money is not being wasted or put at risk due to the Conservatives’ cosy connections with lending firms.”
The letter asks Case why Greensill’s role was not publicly disclosed at the time, and how much he earned from a supply-chain initiative for community pharmacies, launched by the government in 2012.
The scheme was initially run by Greensill’s former employer, the bank Citigroup, and then by his own company. Each time the scheme paid pharmacies upfront for government contracts – before later collecting the money from the government – they took a fee.
During his six-month stint as an adviser, Greensill was reportedly able to make the case to many Whitehall departments to use the kind of innovative financing he was promoting.
“The irresponsible behaviour of Greensill Capital and its almost unparalleled access to the heart of government raises serious questions about what kind of businesses the government is engaging with,” the letter says.
Cameron took up a role with Greensill after leaving No 10, and held share options in the firm, which collapsed into administration this month.
Cameron recently contacted the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, apparently in an attempt to win access to the Treasury Covid rescue schemes for the troubled lender.
The former prime minister has consistently declined to comment since details of his role in Greensill’s collapse began to emerge.
Cameron was cleared last week by a watchdog, the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists, on the grounds that as an employee of the firm his behaviour did not formally constitute lobbying. However, calls for an investigation have continued to intensify.
It is understood that most of Cameron’s texts to Sunak went unanswered and that Sunak later directed him to speak to Treasury officials, who denied Greensill access to the CCFF.
However, the bank was allowed to issue loans to its customers under a scheme run by the state’s British Business Bank, which were 80% guaranteed by the taxpayer.
A spokesperson for the Treasury said: “Senior officials and ministers routinely meet with a range of private sector stakeholders and the government received many representations from the entire spectrum of British business during the pandemic.
“The company was directed to the appropriate officials and, following a consultation process involving several firms in the same sector, their request was denied.”