THE financier at the heart of Westminster’s biggest lobbying scandal has denied being a fraudster as a probe was launched into “potentially criminal” acts at his collapsed bank.

Lex Greensill, who hired former Tory prime minister David Cameron, told MPs he was not a crook as he testified about the failure of Greensill Capital.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) yesterday said it had launched an investigation after receiving allegations relating to the Greensill collapse that were “potentially criminal in nature”.

More details also emerged of the extent of Mr Cameron’s lobbying efforts on behalf of Greensill Capital for state support during the Covid crisis.

Evidence released by the Commons Treasury Committee showed he and his staff sent ministers and officials 73 emails, texts and WhatsApp messages from March 5 until June 26 last year.

He complained it was “nuts” and “bonkers” that Greensill did not get a Government-backed coronavirus loan.

MPs are examining Mr Cameron’s attempts to secure funds by contacting former senior colleagues directly.

New documents show he messaged Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi, and Treasury permanent secretary Sir Tom Scholar, who received 12 texts from him. Mr Cameron also contacted one of Boris Johnson’s senior advisers, Treasury ministers Jesse Norman and John Glen, and the deputy Bank of England governor Sir Jon Cunliffe, who had one call and six emails.

However all the efforts to secure Greensill access to the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) loan scheme were in vain, as the Treasury refused.

One text to Mr Gove on April 3 last year asked the “manically busy” minister: “Do you have a moment for a word? I am on this number and v free. All good wishes Dc.”

He replied: “Thank you! Will call!”

The same day, Mr Cameron also sent a message to the Chancellor asking for a “very quick word” on the Treasury refusal to grant access to CCFF. He said: “HMT are refusing to extend CCFF to include supply chain finance, which is nuts as it pumps billions of cheap credit into SMEs.

“Think there is a simple misunderstanding that I can explain.”

After arranging a discussion with Mr Sunak, the former Prime Minister messaged Mr Gove: “Am now speaking to Rishi first thing tomorrow. If I am still stuck, can I call you then?”

“Of course! Any time,” he responded.

Following the talks, Mr Cameron asked Sir Tom Scholar for “one more high-level chat” with him, adding Mr Sunak “agreed”.

On April 22, Mr Cameron texted Mr Sunak to apologise “for troubling you again” and asked him to “give [CCFF] another nudge over the finish line”.

Mr Cameron later texted Mr Sunak “for the last time, I promise” and asked him to instruct another senior Treasury official to look at the matter.

Mr Cameron, who is due to give evidence to the Treasury Committee tomorrow, has admitted he should have used more formal channels, but denies breaking government rules on lobbying.

Mr Cameron, who left office in 2016, started work as a senior adviser at Greensill in 2018 and owned a 1 per cent stake in the firm, which could have turned him into a multimillionaire under a failed £5bn flotation plan.

After Greensill Capital filed for insolvency in March, it threatened 5,000 UK jobs at Liberty Steel, which relied on it for its financing.

When reports of Mr Cameron’s lobbying on behalf of Greensill then emerged, Mr Johnson ordered a review by lawyer Nigel Boardman into related government decisions. Greensill Capital specialised in supply chain finance, acting as a middle man between buyers and suppliers, paying invoices promptly for a cut.

Giving evidence to the committee, Mr Greensill began with an apology, but blamed the firm’s collapse on its leading insurer withdrawing coverage.

He said: “Please understand that I bear complete responsibility for the collapse of Greensill Capital. I am desperately saddened that more than 1,000 very hard working people have lost their jobs at Greensill.

“Likewise I take full responsibility for any hardship being felt by our clients and their suppliers, and indeed investors in our programmes. It’s deeply regrettable that we were let down by our leading insurer whose actions assured Greensill’s collapse, and indeed some of our biggest customers. To all of those affected by this: I am truly sorry.”

Labour MP Rushanara Ali likened Mr Greensill to Bernie Madoff, the infamous American fraudster who ran the largest Ponzi scheme in history.

He said: “It is a Ponzi scheme. Frankly, it smacks of fraudulent behaviour and it smacks of the sort of stuff we saw conducted by the likes of Madoff in the financial crisis. That’s what is smacks of. It doesn’t smack of a proper process where people can get supply chain finance which is reliable and credible.”

Mr Greensill admitted mistakes but defended supply chain finance.

“It is absolutely correct, we ultimately failed. So there clearly was a flaw in our business,” he said.”

Ms Ali added: “What you created ultimately, and the conduct of lobbying in the way that happened – using a former prime minister, frankly bringing that position into disrepute, to profit – is where the problem lies.”

Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh asked: “Mr Greensill, are you a fraudster?” He replied: “No, Ms McDonagh, I’m not.”

The MP cited a dictionary definition of a fraudster to the financier and added: “As a layperson it seems to me this is precisely what your financial model of prospective receivables is, nothing more than a trick.

“It’s pretend, it’s an imaginary thing, so how’s that not fraud?”

FCA chief executive Nikhil Rathi said the watchdog was looking at matters relating to Greensil Capital UK Greensill Capital Securities (GCSL), and the oversight of GCSL by its principal, Mirabella Advisers LLP.

He said some of the made allegations relating to the firm’s collapse were “potentially criminal in nature”.

In a letter to the committee, he said: “We are also co-operating with counterparts in other UK enforcement and regulatory agencies, as well as authorities in a number of overseas jurisdictions.

“As the committee will be aware, a number of allegations have been made in the press regarding the circumstances of Greensill’s failure, some of which are potentially criminal in nature. There are, therefore, some aspects of the FCA’s interactions with Greensill entities that I am not able to disclose so as not to prejudice these ongoing investigations.”

In a letter to MPs, Mr Cameron said he only became concerned the firm might be in serious difficulty in December 2020 after a call from Mr Greensill. “Up until that point, I firmly believed that Greensill was in good financial health,” he added.