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Conflict of interest concerns over Welsh Boris Johnson aide’s advisory firm stake

15 Apr 2021 3 minute read
Picture by Sergeant Tom Robinson RLC (OGL v1.0).

A top aide to Boris Johnson is facing accusations of a potential conflict of interest over part-ownership of a company that advises governments.

Baroness Finn, from Swansea, who is deputy chief of staff to the UK Prime Minister, owns 35 per cent of a company she co-founded with former minister Francis Maude, whose clients include Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kazakhstan.

Finn, 52, who was made a Baroness in 2015, was born in the US to a Welsh mother and a father who had defected from Communist Czechoslovakia, Simone Kubes.

She grew up in Swansea and attended a local comprehensive before going to Oxford University.

The firm she cofounded, FMAP Limited, has £1 million worth of assets, and advises foreign governments about economic and public sector reform.

It employs a number of former minsters as senior advisers, which include Lord Hammond, the former chancellor, Nick Hurd, a former Home Office minister, and Nick Boles, a former minister for skills.

Between 2017 and 2019 the company commissioned Bill Crothers, the government’s former chief commercial officer, as a subcontractor providing advice on procurement.

Crothers has become embroiled in a lobbying scandal after it was revealed he was given permission by the Cabinet Office to work part-time as a director at Greensill Capital while he was still a civil servant.

‘Potential conflict of interest’

Former chairman of the committee on standards in public life, Alistair Graham, said Finn’s interest in the company presented a “serious” potential conflict of interest.

He told The Times: “While working for the prime minister there is a risk she is looking over her shoulder at how her company is prospering.

“You cannot stop yourself being influenced by the interests of a company of which you are a significant owner.”

According to the civil service code of conduct officials cannot use information acquired during their official duties to “further your private interests or those of others”. Government sources claimed that there is no conflict.

A government spokeswoman 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.”

Finn resigned as a director at FMAP Limited not long before joining the Downing Street operation.

A friend of Finn  has claimed that she “no longer has any involvement in or association with this company” despite her shareholding.

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