David Cameron lobbied a senior German official on behalf of Greensill Capital as an investigation into the financial firm’s banking division in Germany was accelerating, it has emerged.
The former prime minister took part in a virtual call with the German ambassador in November in which senior Greensill representatives discussed introducing Earnd, a system that allows staff to draw their salary in instalments, to the country’s civil service.
The call came after the country’s banking regulator BaFin progressed its investigation into Greensill’s banking subsidiary. The bank’s management is under criminal investigation after German regulators looked into concerns last year about its exposure to companies linked to British steel magnate Sanjeev Gupta.
Cameron also sought a meeting with Jörg Kukies, the German deputy finance minister, last year, the Financial Times reported.
A spokesman for the former prime minister told the newspaper: “David Cameron participated on a virtual call with the German ambassador last November with senior representatives from Greensill to discuss introducing Earnd to the German civil service.”
He disputed, however, that Cameron had solicited a meeting with Kukies. “During call, the German ambassador offered a meeting for Greensill’s team with German deputy finance minister, Jörg Kukies. That meeting did not take place and David Cameron had no role in suggesting it or the process of organising it,” he said.
Greensill Capital’s German subsidiary Greensill Bank fell into insolvency last month.
BaFin set up a “Greensill taskforce” for a special audit of the lender after receiving tips from whistleblowers that pointed to various allegations of fraud and falsified invoices, according to documents released by the German finance ministry last month.
The investigation highlighted concerns about the bank’s level of exposure to companies linked to Gupta, who drew billions of euros of financing from the company.
Cameron, who started working as a paid adviser to the supply-chain financing group in 2018, broke his silence on the lobbying row last Sunday. He said he had “played no role in the decisions to extend credit, or the terms on which such credit was extended”.
He said the value of his share options, which are now worthless following the company’s collapse, was “nowhere near the amount speculated in the press” but did not offer a figure.
He is expected to be summoned to give evidence to numerous UK parliamentary inquiries into the Greensill scandal.
It also emerged earlier this week that Bill Crothers, a former head of Whitehall procurement, was a part-time adviser to Greensill in 2015 while still working as a civil servant after receiving the go-ahead from the Cabinet Office.
The Guardian reported on further links between the lender and the civil service, disclosing that David Brierwood combined a role as a Crown representative in the Cabinet Office with being a director at Greensill for three-and-a-half years.