David Cameron offered the services of supply chain finance group Greensill Capital to a senior German government official as an investigation into his German banking arm gathered pace.
Cameron is at the center of a lobbying scandal over Greensill Capital, whose German subsidiary Greensill Bank went bankrupt last month.
A spokesperson for the former British Prime Minister told the Financial Times: âDavid Cameron participated in a virtual call with the German Ambassador last November with senior representatives from Greensill to discuss the introduction of Earn in the German civil service.
Earnd is a subsidiary of Greensill which allowed employees to withdraw their wages in installments.
According to three people familiar with the matter, Cameron requested a meeting with German Deputy Finance Minister JÃ¶rg Kukies last year. Kukies, Social Democrat and former senior banker at Goldman Sachs, is in charge of financial market and European politics in Berlin. Kukies declined to participate in the meeting, people said.
However, a spokesperson for Cameron disputed that he had requested a meeting and said: [the embassy] appeal, the German Ambassador proposed a meeting for the Greensill team with the German Deputy Minister of Finance, JÃ¶rg Kukies. This meeting did not take place and David Cameron played no role in his suggestion or in the process of his organization.
The embassy’s appeal last November came after German banking watchdog BaFin stepped up its investigation into Greensill’s banking subsidiary.
The bank’s management is under criminal investigation after German regulators began investigating last year over concerns over its exposure to the activities of British steel magnate Sanjeev Gupta.
Documents regarding Greensill released by the German Finance Ministry last month show that BaFin began “regular exchanges with foreign supervisors” in January 2020, after press reports on “the business relationship between Greensill and the group Gupta â.
Over the summer, the German regulator set up a “Greensill task force” to prepare a special audit of the bank after receiving advice from whistleblowers reporting “various allegations of fraud” around “falsified invoices. “, According to the documents.
The investigation ultimately raised concerns about Greensill Bank’s level of exposure to companies linked to metals tycoon Gupta, which drew billions of dollars in funding from the lender. KPMG, which launched the audit in September, has also struggled to verify the existence of certain invoices underlying these funding deals, the FT previously reported.
Cameron started working as a paid adviser to the bank’s parent company, Greensill Capital, in 2018, and was granted stock options that, at one point, could have been worth tens of millions of pounds. .
He made his first public statement on Greensill last weekend, saying he “had no role in the decisions to grant credit, or in the terms of granting that credit.” He said the value of his stock options, which are now worthless after the collapse of the company, was “far from the amount speculated in the press,” but did not offer a specific figure.
Kukies and the German finance ministry declined to comment. Greensill Capital did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Greensill administrator Grant Thornton declined to comment. The German Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cameron’s contacts with German officials have not been reported before and are likely to add to the scrutiny of the former prime minister’s conduct in the Greensill affair.
Jens Zimmermann, a Social Democrats MP in Berlin who is part of the Bundestag committee investigating the fraud of the collapsed German payment company Wirecard, said there were parallels ” between the scandals around Wirecard and Greensill “.
In both cases, the balance sheets appear to have been manipulated and “the massive use of former politicians as door-openers is also evident,” said Zimmermann, deputy chairman of the German-British parliamentary friendship group in the Bundestag.
Kukies faces criticism from his own coalition partners as well as the opposition for visiting Markus Braun, then CEO of Wirecard, at the company’s headquarters in Munich. The visit came after The Financial Times raised allegations of fraud against Wirecard that triggered a special audit of its accounts.
The FT first revealed last month that Cameron lobbied the UK government to increase Greensill Capital’s access to state-backed Covid-19 emergency loan programs, months before the company funding does not collapse and leaves the taxpayer responsible for potential losses.
Cameron is now expected to be called to testify in several UK parliamentary inquiries into the Greensill scandal.
BaFin’s criminal complaint against the management of Greensill Bank concerns a suspicion of balance sheet manipulation, punishable by up to three years in prison under German law.
Additional reporting by Guy Chazan in Berlin
Letter in response to this article:
Cameron’s lobbying follows a familiar pattern / De Barrie Bain, Wadhurst, East Sussex, UK