Greensill Capital’s founder Lex Greensill bolstered his company’s reputation by hiring political heavyweights and Westminster officials to help lead and advise the business.
We take a look at some of the most influential figures hired to promote Greensill Capital before its collapse in March.
Lex Greensill – Greensill founder and chief executive
The 44-year-old Australian melon farmer turned City banker founded Greensill in 2011 and was brought into Downing Street by the late cabinet secretary Jeremy Heywood. He was introduced to a number of figures around Whitehall, where he was reportedly free to pitch his financial projects during David Cameron’s premiership.
Greensill would later recruit a number of former Whitehall officials to his firm, including Cameron, senior civil servant Bill Crothers, former home secretary and Labour peer David Blunkett, and former homelessness tsar Dame Louise Casey.
David Cameron, former UK prime minister – special adviser to Greensill’s board
Cameron was hired as a special adviser in 2018 – two years after he stepped down as prime minister. According to the 1,700 word statement that Cameron released on Sunday, the role involved providing geopolitical advice, helping to win new business and helping Greensill plan for international expansion.
Cameron lobbied a string of Whitehall officials last year – including texting the chancellor, Rishi Sunak – in hopes of securing Greensill access to the UK’s largest emergency Covid loans scheme, which would have involved bending the rules. He also took Greensill to a “private drink” with Matt Hancock, the health secretary, in 2019 to promote the company’s wage advance app, Earnd, for use in the NHS.
Julie Bishop, former Australian foreign minister – Senior adviser to the Greensill board
Bishop served as Australia’s minister for foreign affairs between 2013 and 2015, and was the first woman to hold the role.
She joined Greensill in December 2019, becoming a member of its international advisory board and chair of its Asia-Pacific group. However, her decision to promote supply chain finance drew criticism from small business advocates, who said it encouraged big business to delay paying suppliers, who in turn had pay a fee for the service.
Bill Crothers, former top civil servant – Greensill director
Crothers worked in Whitehall for eight years, including as the government’s chief commercial officer overseeing £40bn of annual government spending.
It emerged on Tuesday that Crothers started advising Greensill two months before he left the civil service in November 2015 – which was approved by the Cabinet Office. He became a Greensill board member in August 2016.
David Brierwood, former crown representative to the Cabinet Office – Greensill director
Like Lex Greensill, former Morgan Stanley banker Brierwood was brought into the Cabinet Office as a crown representative, advising on government buying and its management of suppliers. According to his LinkedIn profile, Brierwood was hired by Greensill two months after joining the Cabinet Office in October 2014.
David Blunkett, former home secretary – adviser to Greensill’s wage advance business, Earnd
The Labour peer was appointed on to the new “expert advisory board” of Greensill’s wage advance provider, Earnd, in November 2020. Blunkett served in Tony Blair’s cabinet from 1997, including as the work and pensions secretary, education and employment secretary, and home secretary.
Dame Louise Casey, former homelessness tsar – adviser to Greensill’s wage advance business, Earnd
Dame Louise Casey, who worked in the civil service for 20 years, was the director general of the troubled families unit under Cameron, and was the former homelessness tsar under Boris Johnson.
She was appointed on to the Earnd advisory board alongside Blunkett in November last year.
Lord Hogan-Howe, former Metropolitan police commissioner – adviser to Greensill’s wage advance business, Earnd
Bernard Hogan-Howe was a Metropolitan police commissioner for six years until 2017. It emerged on Wednesday that he first became a paid consultant, advising Greensill’s wage advance app, Earnd, in May 2020. That was the same month that he joined the Cabinet Office as a non-executive director. At the time, the government’s business contracts division, the Crown Commercial Service, was welcoming bids for contracts related to supply chain finance – Greensill’s speciality.
He said in a statement that he “advised on product and organisational development but not on opportunities in the Cabinet Office or government” and “played no part at all in the procurement process for the contracts”.
The company also appointed a number of influential City figures, including:
Chairman Maurice Thompson: WH Smith director and former Citibank UK chief executive
Director Tracy Clarke: Standard Chartered’s former head of private banking
Senior adviser Patricia F Russo: Hewlett-Packard Enterprises chairman, and General Motors board member