The Greensill affair takes a political turn in the United Kingdom. Former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, who has advised the now bankrupt reverse factoring company since 2018, is accused of intervening directly with the British Treasury in an attempt to give it greater access to the guaranteed bank loan scheme by the State, granted to companies in difficulty by the pandemic. Even if the approach has not borne fruit, the accusation is all the more embarrassing as the collapse of the group is now likely to cost more than a billion pounds to the British taxpayer. The Labor opposition demanded Thursday evening the opening of an investigation.
According to the “Financial Times”, David Cameron opened his address book to personally intervene in favor of Greensill with his former colleagues at the Treasury, but also at 10 Downing Street ” using their personal email and making at least one phone call “.
Requests escalated to the Minister of Finance
Senior Treasury officials were indeed reluctant to make Greensill eligible for the Bank of England funding program known as the “Covid Corporate Financing Facility”. Concerns that the group considered ” misplaced “, Or that he estimated” to be able to treat “. Its representatives therefore met the two most senior officials of the Treasury during ten virtual meetings between March and June 2020.
In mid-May, Finance Minister Rishi Sunak intervened to ask Charles Roxburgh, the second permanent representative of the Treasury, to extend the hearings to hear the company’s arguments.
But as the press began in early May to lift the veil on the growing number of Greensill-related defaults, Charles Roxburgh on May 18 told the company that an extension of the BoE’s program to allow it to lend to small businesses ” would likely not bring in sufficient profit for UK SMEs “. Before confirming on June 26 that Greensill’s request was denied.
Greensill then filed a request to benefit more widely from another government program of guaranteed loans, the “Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme”, providing for a state guarantee of up to 80% on loans granted to large businesses by credit institutions. FinTech was admitted to the program in June, but its status prohibited it from offering loans beyond £ 50 million. And she asked to raise this ceiling to 200 million, the limit that applied to banks. Here again, his request was not successful, Charles Roxburgh having judged such an exhibition too “significant”.
Even if the intervention of the former Prime Minister did not allow Greensill to obtain what she asked for, it is not without asking serious questions about the incestuous links between the political world and the private sector across the Channel. Apart from the remuneration paid to him by Greensill, David Cameron has benefited from options on securities which are worth nothing today, but which could have brought him tens of millions of pounds if the company had gone as planned. listed on the stock market.