Lex Greensill cited David Cameron in failed Australian lobbying
Lex Greensill urged Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to introduce a loan program for civil servants in a lobbying effort that included a misdirected WhatsApp message citing David Cameron.
In the October 2019 message, intended for Morrison but sent in error to another issue, the financier played on his association with the former British Prime Minister: “David Cameron, who is on our board of directors and a important shareholder, speak out loud about you. Greensill wrote.
In reality, Cameron was a paid adviser rather than a board member and was not a significant shareholder, although he was believed to have options that could have earned him around 1 percent of the stake. Greensill Capital. At one point, they were thought to be worth tens of millions of pounds, but since the collapse of Greensill Capital last month, they’re not worth anything.
Greensill then put forward an idea “which we are about to announce with the UK government – where we are giving all NHS employees the opportunity to be paid every day”, adding: “This is something that we think to be a powerful policy in Australia (and I will bear the cost of a gift to the nation). “
The financial product – offered through a Greensill affiliate called Earnd – was then rolled out to frontline NHS workers when the first wave of coronavirus hit the UK in March 2020.
Greensill announced live on Sky News that his company would allow doctors and nurses to cash a portion of their paychecks each day at no additional cost. Earnd, who had his own advisory board that included former Labor politician David Blunkett, filed for administration last month.
The Australian government was more skeptical than the UK of the merits of Greensill’s plans despite a sustained lobbying effort that included Cameron.
Cameron’s relationship with Greensill during his tenure as Prime Minister and after joining Greensill Capital in 2018 has intensified more and more. His job has been to privately lobby the UK government to increase the financial group’s access to pandemic loan programs and even to visit little-known insurance. company in Sydney, where an underwriter was later fired for allegedly providing too much cover to Greensill.
Later in October 2019, Greensill met Morrison. “Mr Greensill has been fired to meet with relevant staff in the Prime Minister’s Office if he wished to present a detailed proposal,” a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said. “The Australian government has not acted on any part of Mr Greensill’s proposal.”
In Davos the following January, Greensill pitched the idea to then Australian Finance Minister Mathias Cormann at a meeting attended by Cameron and former Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop – newly hiring as an advisor by Greensill.
Briefing notes prepared for the meeting by government officials show that Cormann agreed to meet with Greensill’s delegation between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. on January 22. His office requested a briefing note from officials, which was later released under freedom of information rules and outlines Greensill’s flexible compensation plan. as “economically similar to payday loans” and urges the government to take a cautious approach.
“Any consideration of the system for use by Australian government entities should take into account legal regulatory and contracting requirements, as well as the benefits, costs and risks to the government and its employees,” states the information note. The meetings at the end of October and January were first reported by The Australian.
Cormann, who was appointed secretary-general of the OECD last month, told the FT that the media interest in his meeting with Greensill, Bishop and Cameron was “ridiculous” because he never promoted any aspect of the Greensill’s proposal and nothing ever came of it.
“I ran into someone at the World Economic Forum who was there with Julie Bishop, at a function I was co-hosting with Julie Bishop,” Cormann told the FT. “You know he’s had a five to ten minute conversation with me, and it’s the first and last I’ve ever had to do with it.”
The misdirected message, seen by the FT, also refers to an event attended by Morrison and Sanjeev Gupta, the British steel tycoon whose GFG Alliance has now defaulted on billions of dollars in debt from Greensill Capital. .
It contains familiar themes from Greensill’s patter, including references to his family farm. “As a person living abroad for 20 years, I can say that Australia is an amazing country and will always be mine,” he wrote, highlighting the jobs his family has created in Queensland.
Greensill’s brother Peter runs a large farm near Bundaberg, a town in Australia’s agricultural belt. Greensill Farming Group specializes in the production of sugar cane, sweet potatoes and watermelons.
Greensill made his experience of growing up on this family farm a central part of his corporate vision of helping small businesses get paid faster, through an oft-repeated story of the financial hardships his parents endured when large companies have delayed payments.
Spokesmen for Greensill and Cameron declined to comment.