LONDON (AP) — The Bank of England published on Thursday a series of communications showing Britain’s former prime minister, David Cameron making repeated efforts for a now-bankrupt financial firm to access a state-backed coronavirus financial support scheme.
It is the latest in a growing tide of revelations about links between Cameron and state bodies and individuals as part of his work as an adviser to Greensill Capital, which collapsed last month.
According to email communications released by Britain’s central bank under freedom of information laws, Cameron contacted the bank several times in March 2020 to “discuss financing conditions at the onset of the pandemic.”
The documents show that he managed to set up a call between the firm’s founder, Australian financier Lex Greensill, and the bank’s deputy governor Jon Cunliffe on March 17. On that day, the bank launched the COVID Corporate Financing Facility, a scheme under which it lent money directly to large companies, backed by the Treasury.
Cameron also contacted the bank again during April 2020 after Lex Greensill had failed in an attempt to tap the recently launched scheme.
Cameron even wrote to Cunliffe on April 22, 2020, expressing how “incredibly frustrating” the exercise had proved to be.
“Apologies for bothering you about this again,” Cameron said in his opening sentence.
At another call between Lex Greensill and Cunliffe two days later, Cunliffe said the firm “would currently fall outside the boundaries of the scheme.”
On Thursday, the top civil servant at the Treasury, Tom Scholar, also revealed that Cameron had called him on his cell phone and sent a series of texts as part of his lobbying efforts for Greensill Capital, specifically the proposal to access the CCFF.
“The call I took from Mr. Cameron was not a substantive discussion of the proposal,” Scholar told a committee of lawmakers. “It was simply a call to draw it to my attention. I said ‘Thank you very much, this is something we are looking at’.”
Scholar said the proposal had been rejected by Treasury officials as it did not meet the criteria for the scheme.
It has previously been disclosed that Cameron had also contacted Treasury chief Rishi Sunak in an effort to secure government-backed loans for Greensill Capital.
The collapse of the financial firm threatens thousands of U.K. jobs at Liberty Steel, which was dependent on its finance.
The House of Commons’ influential cross-party Treasury Select Committee has announced that it would begin an investigation next week into Greensill’s collapse and the “appropriateness” of the U.K. Treasury’s response to lobbying.
The government has launched its own investigation, led by a lawyer, but opponents doubt it will get to the truth. Opposition parties are calling for tougher rules on contacts between business representatives and government officials, saying Britain’s laxly enforced lobbying regulations leave the door open to corruption.