Boris Johnson’s deputy chief of staff is facing accusations of a potential conflict of interest amid a lobbying scandal that has engulfed the Conservative party.
Baroness Finn, who was appointed to her role in February, holds a 35 per cent stake in a company that advises governments including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kazakhstan.
FMAP Limited currently has more than £1.1m in assets, according to the company’s latest accounts.
The consultancy firm, which was set up by former Cabinet Office minister Lord Maude in 2018, “works with governments to help them save money,” according to its website.
The company lists a range of former Conservative MPs among its top executives, including former chancellor Philip Hammond, former MP Sir Nicholas Soames and former ministers Nick Boles and Nick Hurd.
FMAP commissioned Bill Crothers, the government’s former chief commercial officer, to provide advice on procurement between 2017 and 2019, the Times first reported.
Crothers is currently at the centre of the Greensill lobbying scandal after it emerged he was given permission by the Cabinet Office to work part-time as a director at the company while he was still a civil servant.
Finn has listed her role at FMAP as a registered interest on her parliamentary record. According to Companies House, she terminated her role as a director at the company on 28 February this year.
The Conservative peer’s parliamentary website states that her involvement in the firm ceased to be a registered interest on that date.
But Sir Alistair Graham, former chairman of the committee on standards in public life, told the Times Finn’s stake in FMAP presented a “serious” potential conflict of interest.
“While working for the Prime Minister there is a risk she is looking over her shoulder at how her company is prospering,” he said. “You cannot stop yourself being influenced by the interests of a company of which you are a significant owner.”
The civil service code of conduct dictates that officials must not use information acquired during their official duties to “further your private interests or those of others”.
A government spokesperson said: “Baroness Finn has declared all her relevant interests to the House of Lords, and in addition, complied with the Cabinet Office requirements for special advisers to declare outside interests. The Cabinet Office has a formal process to avoid conflicts of interest arising from such declared interests.”
It comes as the Prime Minister faces accusation of overseeing a return of “Tory sleaze” in the wake of the Greensill Capital lobbying scandal.
Former Tory PM David Cameron is accused of lobbying ministers including the chancellor and health secretary on behalf of Greensill while he worked at the finance firm.
Johnson announced earlier this week that an independent review into Cameron’s contact with ministers will be conducted by Slaughter and May lawyer Nigel Boardman.
Westminster’s Treasury Select Committee announced this afternoon it will launch a separate inquiry into the scandal.