“Government to probe potential lobbying by cryptocurrency firm, involving Lord Hammond”


Calls for an inquiry into Lord Hammond’s contacts with the Treasury have been made, following revelations that he advised a cryptocurrency company after resigning as Chancellor less than two years ago.

The former chancellor’s involvement with Copper, a start-up inquiring about its launch, was first reported on Thursday. Typically, ministers are prohibited from lobbying for two years after leaving the government.

In early 2021, Lord Hammond took on an official role at Copper, raising questions about his relationship with the company. He had to consult the government before accepting the job in the private sector. However, he has denied any wrongdoing, stating that the meetings did not constitute lobbying.

Alistair Graham, former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, stated that this situation has a similar feel to the recent Greensill lobbying scandal, and called for an investigation into Lord Hammond’s actions.

Sue Hawley, the Executive Director of Spotlight On Corruption, emphasized the importance of transparency when it comes to private companies influencing government officials.

The 2021 Greensill lobbying scandal, involving former Prime Minister David Cameron and his colleagues, also sheds light on the issue of private companies seeking favor from government officials. Documents obtained by the Financial Times show that Treasury officials met with Copper’s CEO in March 2021, with an introduction from Lord Hammond.

Internal emails also revealed that Treasury Minister John Glen recommended to use Lord Hammond as an intermediary to set up a call with the CEO of Copper. However, two unnamed officials expressed concerns about engaging with the company.

In late March, Mr. Glen had a scheduled call with Lord Hammond, and Treasury officials prepared a briefing on blockchain technology ahead of the call. The documents also show that the officials took into account Copper’s concerns about the speed of regulatory changes for crypto companies.

Lord Hammond, who left his position as chancellor in July 2019, officially joined Copper in August 2021 as chairman, after being granted “growth shares” in the company.

Lord Hammond has denied any wrongdoing, stating that his interactions with Mr. Glen were not lobbying and were in a private capacity. He also clarified that any contact he had with anyone was not on behalf of Copper.

A Treasury spokesman stated that all transparency procedures were followed correctly, and they regularly meet with crypto firms to understand the sector and inform policy development.

Mr. Glen also clarified that his meetings with Lord Hammond were in a private capacity as friends and former colleagues, and did not require declaring. Copper did not respond to requests for comment.

Expand your horizons by exploring award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph Free for 3 Months with Unlimited Access to Our Award-Winning Website, Exclusive App, Money-Saving Offers and More.

Related articles

Recent articles