David Cameron admits to friends that it was a mistake to try and lobby Chancellor Rishi Sunak on behalf of his employer Greensill Capital
David Cameron has admitted to friends that it was a mistake to try and lobby Chancellor Rishi Sunak on behalf of his employer Greensill Capital.
The former Prime Minister is under scrutiny for attempting to gain lender Greensill further access to taxpayer-backed Covid loans schemes.
Greensill went bust last month, and Cameron has refused to speak publicly about his role at the company since. But a friend of the ex-leader told the Financial Times: ‘I think he would agree it could be argued that a formal letter would have been more appropriate.’
Claim: It has also emerged Lex Greensill (pictured) exaggerated his connections with David Cameron in an attempt to win over the Australian prime minister
In a sign that Cameron was beginning to fight back, his friends added that he had only met Lex Greensill, the firm’s Australian founder, twice while he was in No 10. The Greensill scandal has also put Sunak under the spotlight, after he replied to Cameron’s texts saying that he had ‘pushed the team’ to find a way to give Greensill increased access to the Covid loan schemes.
It also emerged Lex Greensill exaggerated his connections with Cameron in an attempt to win over the Australian prime minister.
As the shamed financier tried to whip up more business for his firm Greensill Capital in late 2019, he lobbied Scott Morrison to set up a lending scheme for government workers. In a WhatsApp message seen by the FT, intended for Morrison but accidentally sent to the wrong number, Greensill said: ‘David Cameron, who is on our board and a material shareholder, speaks most highly of you.’
In fact, his description of Cameron was not correct. The former PM was an adviser rather than a board member and is understood to have stock options which would have given him a stake of around 1 per cent in Greensill Capital. During Cameron’s time as prime minister, he signed off on a multi-billion-pound lending scheme for NHS-linked pharmacies proposed by Greensill – despite an official report which rejected the idea.
In his messages to Morrison, Greensill was pitching an idea similar to a separate scheme used for NHS workers in the UK, where the lender would pay cash-strapped nurses their wages daily rather than monthly and would receive a fee from their employer for offering the service.
He continued to push the idea at the World Economic Forum’s meeting in Davos the next January. But briefing notes from the meeting, put together by Australian officials, showed their suspicion of Greensill’s ideas as they described his flexible pay scheme as ‘economically similar to payday lending’.