Britain’s Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) reviews the contact of Lord Philip Hammond’s HM Treasury to crypto startup Copper. This comes within the last 2 years of his stepping down from office in 2019.
Documents revealed Hammond had multiple contacts with Treasury officials about Copper, including then-Economic Secretary John Glen. He discussed regulatory issues raised by the company and passed feedback from Copper’s meeting with the Treasury back to Glen.
Acoba typically prohibits former ministers from lobbying their erstwhile departments for two years after resigning. This aligns with guidelines in the Ministerial Code barring such conduct during the period.
Hammond joined Copper’s board in August 2021. The firm offers institutional cryptocurrency investors prime brokerage, trading, and custody services. As per emails reviewed, Hammond informed Glen about “concerns from firms such as Copper” about the pace of regulatory reform for crypto companies in mid-2021.
Hammond and the Treasury maintained transparency, which was correctly gone. The rest of the MPs from the other village demanded a proper investigation, also considering his role as a policy-making economist.
Hammond saw the sum of what he communicated as not equal to lobbying. He said, “Financial services in the UK is what impresses me, and I think fintech can keep Britain well in the top league in the world.”
The UK crypto sector supports equal treatment with other financial institutions in regulation. However, recent media stories show he is a transgressor who is after destroying the received outcome. Such an event may prompt an Acoba to look into post-tenure surveillance of former government officials’ activities.
Open communication channels no doubt benefit businesses and governments alike. However, maintaining checks and balances helps sustain public trust in the integrity of policymaking. As fintech’s societal role rapidly evolves, policy leaders face growing pains in balancing innovation, security, competition, and financial stability.