Lessons from Greensill Capital Contents


Background to our inquiry

Greensill Capital

1.Greensill Capital was a financial firm whose stated business was the provision of supply chain finance (SCF).1 After Alexander “Lex” Greensill started his business in 2011,2 Greensill grew quickly and since its inception had funded, according to Mr Greensill, “over 8 million suppliers in 175 countries.”3

2.During the first few months of the Covid pandemic, Greensill’s representatives lobbied for various changes to the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) which would allow Greensill to sell its notes into the facility.4 One of those representatives was the former Prime Minister, the Rt Hon. David Cameron,5 who worked for Greensill as a paid adviser.6 Ultimately Greensill did not secure access to the CCFF, but it did benefit from the use of loan guarantees provided through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS).78

3.In March 2021, Greensill was placed into administration.9 Subsequent revelations about Greensill’s lobbying activities and its use of CLBILs raised questions around its regulation and what lessons there might be in this respect. Questions were also raised around the Treasury’s response to Greensill’s lobbying. Our inquiry therefore contained two strands:

i)Lessons for the financial system and its regulation from the failure of Greensill Capital, and

ii)Lessons for HM Treasury (and its associated public bodies) from its interactions with Greensill Capital during the Covid crisis.

Our inquiry

4.We did not issue a call for evidence for this inquiry. But, at the outset, our Chair wrote to Mr Cameron, the Bank of England, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), HM Treasury, and UK Government Investments (UKGI), seeking information in writing.10 The information supplied in response included extensive details of communications and meetings, and it assisted the Committee in forming a clear understanding of the chronology of events. Following oral evidence sessions, the Chair wrote a second round of letters, to Mr Greensill, to the Bond and Credit Corporation (BCC), and to Mr Cameron, seeking further information.11 We are grateful to those who spent considerable time compiling the details which we had requested.

5.We held oral evidence sessions with the following witnesses:

We also questioned relevant witnesses during other Committee meetings:

6.We would like to thank all those who provided oral and written evidence during this inquiry.

7.This report reflects the terms of reference for the inquiry, in which we determined that we would examine the lessons which could be drawn for the financial system and its regulation from the failure of Greensill Capital, and the lessons for the Treasury and its associated public bodies arising from their interactions with Greensill Capital during the Covid crisis. The report is structured as follows

To aid understanding we are publishing separately a chronology of the key events that we cover in this report12.

Other inquiries and investigations

8.Other investigations are under way into the events relating to the operations of Greensill, its representatives and matters relating to its failure, and broader questions around the use of supply chain finance. These include:

9.The Committee notes the large number of inquiries into the events surrounding the collapse of Greensill Capital. It would be an opportunity lost if the fragmented and siloed nature of these inquiries were to miss the big picture and fail to draw together appropriate conclusions.

1 SCF is a form of short-term business finance a finance provider pays a supplier up front, and the future payment obligations of the buyer (typically a large corporate) are transferred to the finance provider. See Chapter 2 for a fuller explanation.

4 The CCFF was a Covid support scheme administered by the Bank of England, which purchased short-term debt of up to one-year maturity, issued by investment grade non-financial firms making a material contribution to the UK economy. See Chapter 3 for a fuller explanation.

6 The Office of David Cameron, ‘Greensill Capital,’ accessed 22 June 2021

9 Companies House, ‘Notice of Administrators’ Proposals,’ (April 2021), p 1

13 Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, ‘Liberty Steel and the Future of the UK Steel Industry,’ accessed 02 July 2021

14 Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, ‘Propriety of governance in light of Greensill,’ accessed 02 July 2021

15 Public Accounts Committee, ‘Lessons from Greensill Capital,’ accessed 02 July 2021

16 The GFG Alliance is a collection of global businesses and investments, owned by Sanjeev Gupta and his family. GFG Alliance, ‘About us,’ accessed 21 June 2021

17 Serious Fraud Office, ‘SFO confirms investigation into Gupta Family Group Alliance,’ accessed 21 June 2021

18 The principal is the firm through which another firm (the appointed representative) receives regulatory permissions, and is responsible for ensuring that, on an ongoing basis, its appointed representative complies with the requirements, rules and regulations of the FCA. See Chapter 2 for a fuller explanation.

20 National Audit Office, ‘Investigation into Greensill Capital,’ accessed 30 June 2021. Comptroller and Auditor General’s Report, Investigation into the British Business Bank’s accreditation of Greensill Capital, Session 2021–22, HC 301, 7 July 2021

22 Cabinet Office, ‘Review into the Development and Use of Supply Chain Finance in Government,’ published 12 April 2021, accessed 30 June 2021

24 IFRS Foundation, ‘Supplier Finance Arrangements,’ accessed 06 July 2021

Published: 20 July 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement