Treasury committee to discuss potential inquiry into Greensill collapse | Banking

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An influential group of MPs are to discuss launching a formal inquiry into the collapse of Greensill Capital, the lender advised by David Cameron, following reports that the former prime minister used private channels to lobby Whitehall on the company’s behalf.

The Commons Treasury committee is expected to consider a potential investigation at a scheduled meeting on Monday afternoon, where MPs are due to discuss the next set of issues to be tackled by the group over the coming months.

The Labour MP and committee member Angela Eagle raised concerns about Greensill to the group shortly after the company collapsed this month. She was prepared to discuss a potential inquiry into the lender’s failure at Monday’s meeting even before the extent of Cameron’s lobbying efforts emerged last week.

She said allegations that the former prime minister contacted the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, on his private phone in hopes of securing special access to hundreds of thousands of pounds of emergency Covid loans were “eyebrow-raising”.

Granting Greensill access to the Covid corporate financing facility (CCFF) would have meant bending the rules, since lenders are not meant to borrow money through the programme.

“There’s a public interest in being completely transparent about what’s going on with Greensill, and David Cameron’s role in it,” Eagle said. “And the sooner there’s transparency, the better. And that’s what I’ll be pressing for.”

If an investigation is approved, it would give MPs power to call for evidence, including documents and testimony from witnesses including Cameron and Greensill’s founder, the Australian sugar farmer and billionaire banker Lex Greensill.

The shadow chancellor, Anneliese Dodds, has also called for an inquiry into the former prime miniser’s alleged attempts to use his influence in Whitehall.

Cameron’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

According to the Sunday Times, the former prime minister sent multiple texts to Sunak in April 2020 in hopes of gaining access to cheap, 100% government-backed loans through the CCFF.

Cameron’s attempts to sway officials were part of wider lobbying efforts by Greensill, which, according to public records, also held 10 virtual meetings with senior Treasury officials between March and June last year.

Greensill hoped to use the CCFF money to lend cash to its clients, which included Liberty Steel’s owner, GFG Alliance. The company, which is owned by the steel magnate Sanjeev Gupta and employs 5,000 people in the UK, relied heavily on Greensill funding and was forced to pause production at some of its British plants this month to conserve cash following the lender’s collapse.

The Treasury did not immediately respond but previously said that officials regularly met stakeholders to discuss the economic response to Covid.

“The meetings in question were primarily about broadening the scope of CCFF to enable access for providers of supply chain finance, which – following a call for evidence and discussions with several other firms within the sector – we decided against and informed the businesses concerned,” the Treasury said.

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Treasury committee to discuss potential inquiry into Greensill collapse | Banking

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