New research by anti-poverty campaign group, the World Development Movement (WDM), has revealed that 32% of ministers in the UK government, including top cabinet ministers, are linked to UK finance and energy companies fueling the economy of climate change.
The WDM has has condemned what it calls the ‘finance-energy complex’ at the heart of government, which links big finance, oil and coal companies like Shell or Tullow Oil, to UK ministers at the very top of the government, including David Cameron, William Hague, George Osborne, Michael Gove, Oliver Letwin and Vince Cable.
The nexus is not limited to members of the government. High level executives of big private sector financial institutions are routinely appointed to serve on important government committees. Some of these also serve on the boards of energy companies or are involved in financing or lobbying for them. The House of Lords is also home to scores of individuals with links to either big finance or big energy. An investigation has recently revealed that a sixth of Lords have remunerated links to the financial sector.
Journalists and other investigators have uncovered the scale of lobbying and revolving doors that exist between the world of banks, hedge funds and stockbrokers and the corridors of power.
Big finance and big energy are intricately linked. Between 2010 and 2012, the UK’s five biggest banks underwrote £95.5 billion in corporate bonds for fossil fuel companies and another £74.5 billion in new share issues.
All five have people on their boards of directors with links to the fossil fuel industry. In turn the top four oil and gas and the top four coal mining companies all have board members with backgrounds in finance.
According to the research, the value of fossil fuel shares on the London Stock Exchange is £900 billion – higher than the GDP of the whole of sub-Saharan Africa.
Top five UK banks’ underwrote £170 billion in bonds and share issues for fossil fuel companies 2010-12 – more than 11 times the amount the UK contributed in climate finance for developing countries.
Among the revelations, the report also reveals that foreign secretary William Hague, who used to work for Shell, helped Tullow Oil to get out of paying a £175 million tax bill in Uganda. Mr Hague actually made a personal phone call to the Ugandan president on Tullow Oil’s behalf.
They also discovered that David Cameron received a £10,000 donation from Jonathan Green, from the hedge fund GLG Partners, a frequent investor in fossil fuels and the major investor in oil startup Lothian, and also has dealt in shares of numerous fossil fuel companies including; Victoria Oil & Gas, RusPetro, Max Petroleum and Churchill Mining.
The report goes on to say:
Mark Foster Brown worked as a trader at hedge fund Altima Partners and donated £10,000 to Cameron’s leadership bid.
Like GLG, Altima deals in fossil fuel shares, including Cadogan Petroleum and Lonrho plc,29 which is a multi-sector company involved in building port terminals in Africa “to support the oil and gas industry”.
Other prominent finance sector donors to Cameron’s leadership campaign include James Lyle (formerly of Tiger Investments and Millgate Capital), Michael Spencer (derivatives trader at Dresdener Bank, formerly Natwest and Standard Chartered) and Robert Fleming (founder of the Robert Fleming merchant bank).
It also revealed a brief history of the British governments affair with finance and energy companies:
Many past ministers left government to fall straight into jobs in big finance or big oil. Here are some examples of former government ministers who have gone on to lucrative careers in finance or energy:
Tony Blair (former prime minister): JP Morgan, Zurich, UI Energy Corporation and others.
Peter Mandelson (various senior posts): Lazard investment bank.
Mark Malloch Brown (former energy and development minister): consultant to Vitol and oil exploration company Southwest energy.
Shriti Vadera (former DfID minister): BHP Billiton.
Michael Foster (former DfID minister): Society of British Gas Industries.