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Cameron’s Shock Return Revives Questions About Greensill Links

(Bloomberg) -- Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s surprise return to front-line politics risks renewing scrutiny of his links with Lex Greensill, the collapse of whose firm is at the center of a possible criminal probe.

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Cameron was employed as an adviser to Greensill Capital after his time in office, and faced criticism for his intense lobbying of civil servants and officials on behalf of the firm and its founder. In all, Cameron made multiple phone calls and sent more than 70 emails and texts to different officials, often signed off with “love Dc.”

The implosion of the firm in March 2021 left creditors facing billions in losses. The Financial Conduct Authority’s enforcement chief said last month that some allegations regarding the circumstances of Greensill’s failure are “potentially criminal in nature.” Meanwhile her counterparts at the Serious Fraud Office are investigating the firm’s financial ties with Sanjeev Gupta’s steel conglomerate. There is no suggestion that Cameron is implicated in any criminality.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak brought Cameron back into government as Foreign Secretary on Monday in an attempt to reassert his authority in a speedy cabinet reshuffle ahead of an expected general election next year. It’s a bet that the former prime minister’s work after he left government won’t impact on his new role.

Asked in a pooled broadcast interview on Monday about his lobbying activities on behalf of Greensill, Cameron at first evaded the question before saying when prompted that “as far as I’m concerned, that is all dealt with and in the past.”

UK MPs at the Treasury Select Committee said Cameron’s use of “less formal means to lobby government showed a significant lack of judgment on his part, especially as his ability to use an informal approach was aided by his previous position of prime minister,” according to the committee’s report.

Cameron told the committee he’d been paid a “big” salary at Greensill — far more than he earned as prime minister, but wouldn’t say how much. He said his lobbying activities weren’t motivated by what he had to lose, but instead because he felt Greensill could help the government to support British businesses through the pandemic.

In her October letter, Therese Chambers, the FCA’s head of enforcement, also disclosed that the regulator had closed a linked investigation into Greensill Capital under money laundering regulations.

When questioned over the failure of Greensill in 2021, Cameron said there was no sense it was in trouble at the start of the pandemic. He said he had seen no evidence of fraud.

(Updates with Cameron comment in fifth paragraph.)

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