David Cameron said defended his insistence on UK cabinet and officials on behalf of Greensill Capital, insists on making a profit instead of keeping the company’s profits.
The former prime minister, in his first public comments to Greensill since its fall in March, declined to say how much money he would like to receive from the finance company before going to oversee it.
Readers at the company told the Financial Times that Cameron owned about 1% of Greensill’s value. The company was once valued at $ 7bn.
But Cameron told the House of Commons select committee that the idea of a possible release from Greensill was “absurd”. He declined to say what the figure was but said he had a share of the shares and was paid “generous donations, far more than I received as prime minister”.
He also said he had “a lot of money in the future for Greensill”.
After three months of negotiations, Treasure decided in mid-2020 that it did not like Cameron’s idea.
Mel Stride, Conservative chairman of the Treasury committee, said Cameron could be encouraged to “do this” by contacting them at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis in late 2020 because he realized “his chances of making more money were at stake”.
The former Prime Minister said: “What I wanted to say to the government was that we had a good idea of giving a reputation to business.”
Stride asked if Cameron should have known that Greensill was in trouble when concerns began to surface at the company, including in May 2020 Financial Times Report.
But Cameron said he did not know the company was in serious trouble until December 2020. “I do not believe in March or April.. . . it was dangerous for Greensill to fall. ”
Angela Eagle, a Labor member of the committee, told Cameron some of her messages to ministers and officials appear to be “just more persuasive than persuasion”.
But Cameron defended his position, stating that Treasury officials did not consider it “inappropriate” due to the “financial heart disease” occurring in the UK at the beginning of the Covid-19 epidemic.
Due to his “persistence” and the fact that financial institutions like Greensill were “misunderstood” by many people, he added.
Cameron made sure that he regularly attended board meetings at Greensill even though he was not the company’s director, nor did he engage in day-to-day business.
“I take part in meetings, I listen to discussions, I make contributions, especially in politics,” he told councilors. “I’ve never been a credit union committee, a risk committee or an accounting committee.”
Cameron also strived to win Greensill clients and fostering relationships with key customers.
Greensill’s fall program began in September 2020 when Tokio Marine, its main insurer, announced the removal of the cover in six months.
Cameron said he was unaware of the move, although he was attending meetings and listening to the company’s internal podcast.
The former prime minister acknowledged this Greensill had a “multiple client” with GFG, a steel company led by industrial dealer Sanjeev Gupta.
He also said it was “very confusing” to read a FT Report that companies listed on Gupta’s loan documents refused to do business with GFG.
But Cameron defended Greensill’s actions. “Just because a business is starting to run a business, doesn’t mean anything about it was wrong,” he said. That is not to say that it was all a hoax. ”
Cameron said as Prime Minister he had enacted laws requiring every meeting between the minister and the tourist host to be rescued – but not in writing and phone calls.
In his opening remarks, Cameron said he had not violated the law, but acknowledged that “the Prime Minister is on the other side” of his conduct after resigning.
In doing so, he made a mistake in copying the cabinet and officials by texting him instead of just writing a letter.
Cameron said it was “very frustrating” that he had worked for a company that had failed.
He later told the Commons Public Accounts Committee that he was former secretary general Jeremy Heywood who brought Greensill to Whitehall in 2011 to advise the government on finances – which led to a loan program for pharmacies.
He also said he met Lex Greensill, the founder of the company, twice before 2016 and did not participate in Greensill Capital’s offer of a medical contract in 2018. “It’s like saying, I benefited from planning your wedding six years ago because six years later I married an old friend.