UK ex-Chancellor Hammond’s crypto startup ties under scrutiny

Former U.K. Chancellor Philip Hammond faces scrutiny over his interactions with the crypto startup Copper before his departure from office.

Ex-Chancellor Lord Philip Hammond seemingly had interactions with U.K. Treasury officials regarding the crypto startup Copper, less than two years after stepping down from his position, raising questions about potential lobbying activities during the period when ex-ministers are typically restricted from such engagements, the Financial Times has learned, citing Treasury documents.

According to the documents, civil servants met with Copper CEO Dmitry Tokarev via Hammond and then-economic secretary John Glen. Hammond, who formally joined Copper in August 2021 after leaving his post in 2019, apparently had discussions with Glen regarding regulatory concerns raised by Copper.

As per internal email letters, Hammond told the Treasury minister at the time about “concerns from firms such as Copper” on the speed of regulatory change for crypto companies. He also relayed to Glen Tokarev’s feedback on Copper’s meeting with Treasury officials.

The British Advisory Committee on Business Appointments typically bans ex-ministers from lobbying their former departments in the two years after they leave, reflecting the position set out in the ministerial code, though the body sometimes imposes shorter periods.

Both Hammond and Treasury representatives affirmed that transparency procedures were followed appropriately.

In a commentary to the Financial Times, Hammond said he had a “deep shared interest in the health of the U.K. Financial Services sector, and particularly in the potential of fintech to help the U.K. maintain its role as a globally significant financial hub” at the time. He also stated that he did not consider his interactions with Glen to constitute lobbying.

Founded in 2018, Copper is a London-based crypto infrastructure provider, which offers custody, prime brokerage, and settlement services to institutional investors trading in cryptocurrencies. According to Crunchbase data, Copper raised a total of $281 million in six funding rounds from 11 investors, including Barclays Ventures and Tiger Global Management.

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