Former prime minister Lord Hammond is facing calls for an investigation into his contacts with Treasury officials regarding a cryptocurrency company he continued to consult.
It emerged on Thursday that Lord Hammond had contacted officials about start-up Copper less than two years after he resigned as prime minister.
Former ministers are typically prohibited from lobbying for two years after leaving government.
The contact in early 2021 took place before Lord Hammond took up a formal role at the company, raising questions about his relationship with Copper at a time when he had to seek government advice before taking up private sector jobs. Ta.
The former prime minister strongly denied that the meeting could be considered lobbying.
Alistair Graham, former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said: [Lord] Cameron and Greensill case.
“I’m sure there will be a similar inquiry into whether Hammond acted appropriately here. It’s disappointing to see a former prime minister stretching the rules in this way.”
Sue Hawley, executive director of Spotlight on Corruption, said: “When ministers and senior civil servants are favoring certain private companies behind closed doors, it is essential that they make this public. There is,” he said.
The 2021 Greensill lobbying scandal concerned contacts between former Prime Minister and current Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron and former colleagues.
According to Treasury documents seen by the Financial Times, civil servants met Copper’s chief executive in mid-March 2021 after an “introduction via Philip Hammond/EST”. EST refers to the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs at the Treasury, which at the time was John Glenn.
“Engagement may not be helpful.”
One internal email said Mr Glenn had instructed civil servants to use Lord Hammond as a go-between for Copper’s chief executive, Dmitry Tokarev.
Glenn recommended that “authorities contact Mr. Philip and have him set up a phone call with Mr. Dmitry.”
In an email, two anonymous officials said their “initial view was that engagement with this company may not be particularly helpful.”
The former prime minister spoke with Mr. Glenn in a scheduled phone call in late March, a week after Mr. Tokarev’s meeting with Treasury officials, according to documents released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
Officials prepared an explanatory memo for Glenn on blockchain-based trading and custody systems ahead of the call, and revised it with copper in mind, documents show.
According to documents seen by the FT, Lord Hammond told the Chancellor of the Exchequer about “concerns from companies such as Copper” about the speed of regulatory changes for crypto companies.
He also provided Mr. Glenn with feedback from Mr. Tokarev regarding Mr. Copper’s meeting with Treasury officials.
“Philip contacted me.” [Glen] “I wanted to let you know that Copper’s CEO was very impressed with this meeting this morning,” another email between anonymous financial officials said.
Lord Hammond stepped down as Prime Minister in July 2019 and officially joined Copper just over two years later in August 2021.
He was granted non-voting “growth shares” in Copper in May 2022 and became chairman of the company in January last year.
There was no need to declare it at the meeting.
The former prime minister told the FT that he did not “strongly” consider his interactions with Mr Glenn to be lobbying and said he had “never asked John Glenn to facilitate the Copper Conference”, adding that it was “It would be inappropriate,” he said.
He said he had an “informal” phone conversation with Glenn in March 2021, but that it was part of “regular, if not particularly frequent” communications with a “close political friend.” Ta.
He said the two parties “have a deep shared interest in the health of the UK’s financial services sector, and in particular the potential of fintech to help the UK maintain its role as a globally significant financial hub.” Stated.
Lord Hammond added: [he] The exchange I had with someone was not on behalf of Copper. ”
A Treasury spokesperson said all transparency processes were carried out in the correct manner.
Treasury representatives “meet with a number of crypto companies each year to help understand the sector and inform policy development to ensure it is proportionate and secure.” he added.
A spokeswoman for Mr Glen said he met Lord Hammond “regularly” in a “private capacity” and “as a friend and former colleague”.
“These were not official meetings and there was no need to declare them. It was entirely appropriate for the finance minister to meet with a respected former prime minister,” he added.
Mr Copper did not respond to the FT’s request for comment.