Finance

Ex-UK Chancellor faces scrutiny over lobbying allegations

Lord Philip Hammond, a vocal crypto advocate serving as the United Kingdom’s Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2016 to 2019, might have breached the lobbying rules for former ministers. 

As reported by the Financial Times on Feb. 9, in March 2021, Hammond played a role in the communication between then Economic Secretary for the Treasury, John Glen and the unnamed Treasury officials on one side, and the CEO of crypto firm Copper, Dmitry Tokarev, on the other. The claim is based on the Treasury documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

In March 2021, Hammond played a role in the communication between the then Economic Secretary for the Treasury, John Glen and the unnamed Treasury officials on one side, and the CEO of crypto firm Copper, Dmitry Tokarev, on the other. The claim, reported the Financial Times on Feb. 9, is based on Treasury documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

According to the report, Glen told officials in an internal email to use Hammond as an intermediary for Tokarev. A week after the Treasury officials had met with Tokarev, Hammond spoke to Glen on the phone, letting him know that the Copper CEO was incredibly impressed by the meeting. Hammond also communicated Copper’s concerns about the speed of regulatory changes for crypto companies to the Treasury Secretary.

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All that occurred before Hammond officially joined Copper as Senior Adviser in August 2021. As he left the position of the Chancellor in July 2019, Hammond must have sought permission from the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments to take any position in the private sector connected to the lobbying efforts with his former department.

Hammond told the FT that he didn’t consider his interactions with Glen in the spring of 2021 to be lobbying and didn’t ask the Economic Secretary to facilitate any meeting between the Treasury and Copper, as it would be “inappropriate.” The ex-Chancellor called his phone call to Glen in March 2021 a “regular, if not particularly frequent” contact with a “close political friend.”

A U.K. Treasury spokesman has also denied wrongdoing, saying that Treasury officials “meet with many crypto firms each year to understand the sector better and inform policy development to ensure it is proportionate and safe.”

In June 2022, Hammond publicly raised concerns that the U.K. is slipping behind its rivals in the European Union regarding cryptocurrency regulation. The former official said that while the country has been “very agile in embracing new technologies” in the past, this hasn’t been as apparent when it comes to crypto regulation, adding that it was likely due to a mix between a “bandwidth issue” and a “capacity issue.”

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