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David Cameron has refused to say how much money he would have made from Greensill Capital had it not collapsed.
The former prime minister admitted on Thursday he was being paid a “significant” amount, but said the precise number was “private”.
Cameron is reported to have told friends he stood to make £60 million from the company, a figure he dismissed as “absurd”.
He was appearing before the Commons Treasury committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the ex-PM’s ultimately unsuccessful lobbying on behalf of Greensill.
On Tuesday, the committee released dozens of texts and emails Cameron sent to ministers and senior officials appealing for their help in gaining access for the firm to government Covid loan support programmes
They included messages to Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove, senior officials at the Treasury and the Bank of England, as well as a call to Matt Hancock.
The government has said Greensill’s applications were dealt with properly and were ultimately rejected. The company filed for insolvency in March.
But there has been criticism of how a former prime minister was able to exploit his personal contacts with former colleagues and officials in the pursuit of commercial gain.
Mel Stride, the Tory chair of the Treasury committee, asked how much money Cameron expected to earn from Greensill.
He told Cameron it was important for MPs to know if it was “multiple millions of pounds” rather than “tens of thousands” of pounds.
Stride told Cameron “many people” would conclude he was lobbying government because hiis “opportunity to make a large amount of money was under threat”.
Cameron said: “I was paid an annual amount, a generous annual amount, far more than what I earned as prime minister. And I had shares.
“I was absolutely had a big economic investment in the future of Greensill. I haven’t put a number on those things.
“I don’t think the amount is particularly germane,” he added. “As far as I’m concerned it’s a private matter.”
Cameron earned £150,402 while he served as prime minister.
The City watchdog is also launching a formal investigation into the collapse of Greensill.
The Financial Conduct Authority said some of the allegations made about the firm were “potentially criminal in nature”.
Greensill was the biggest backer of GFG – the owner the UK’s third largest steelmaker, Liberty Steel – and its failure has put thousands of jobs at risk as GFG seeks to refinance.
Appearing before the Treasury committee on Tuesday, the firm’s founder, Australian financier Lex Greensill, said he was “truly sorry” and took full responsibility for what happened.