UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has admitted to violating anti-money laundering rules enacted two years ago by his own Conservative Party government. Hunt claims the violation was an accidental administrative error.
“Honest Mistake” says Jeremy Hunt
In a story first broken by the Daily Telegraph on Thursday, Hunt has admitted to not properly disclosing his 50% interest in a company which owns seven luxury apartments.
This was a breach of a 2016 amendment to the Companies Act, which requires all persons with a 25% or greater controlling interest in a company to register with Companies House as “a person with significant control.” By forcing anyone with even indirect control of a company to appear on a public register, the act is aimed at preventing money laundering.
When the registration for Mare Pond Properties Ltd was made in September 2017, only Hunt’s wife, Lucia Guo, was named.
According to the Telegraph report, Hunt also failed to inform the parliamentary register of members’ interests within the 28-day time limit.
Jeremy Hunt, who has an estimated net worth of £14 million, has appologized for his “errors.” A spokesperson for Hunt said:
“These were honest administrative mistakes which have already been rectified. Jeremy’s accountant made an error in the Companies House filing which was a genuine oversight. With respect to ministerial and parliamentary declarations, the Cabinet Office are clear that there has been no breach of the ministerial code.
“…Although there was no personal gain involved, Jeremy accepts these mistakes are his responsibility and has apologised to the parliamentary authorities.”
Theresa May is happy to look the other way concerning her fellow Cabinet member. A Downing Street spokesperson said, “Jeremy has rightly apologised for an administrative oversight, and as the Cabinet Office have made clear there has been no breach of the ministerial code. We consider the matter closed.”
Labour refer Hunt to watchdog
The much-beleaguered Labour Party are unsurprisingly keen to a Conservative misstep in the headlines, especially as it might distract from one of the many scandals emanating from their own ranks.
Shadow Cabinet Office Secretary Jon Trickett has referred Jeremy Hunt to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.
“This is simply unacceptable and especially so given the secretary of state’s position at the heart of Theresa May’s government,” Trickett said.
“Labour will today refer Jeremy Hunt to the standards commissioner to look into this serious breach. He should have had the decency to refer himself rather than sweep this under the carpet.”
Early indications are that Hunt will be given at most a slap on the wrist, at least as far as the breach of regulations concerning Companies House.
“Companies House have said their ‘primary aim is to seek compliance,'” says BBC political reporter Jessica Parker, “suggesting that they are taking a relatively gentle approach in dealing with such oversights which, I’m told, are not uncommon.”