Call for inquiry
Ewing caught in eye of Greensill storm
Fergus Ewing and Sanjeev Gupta
An SNP minister’s unrecorded dinner with financier Lex Greensill and the steel tycoon Sanjeev Gupta has prompted calls for an investigation into whether he broke the ministerial code.
Fergus Ewing, rural economy secretary in the Scottish government, dined with the pair and two of their senior colleagues at Cail Bruich, one of Glasgow’s top restaurants in 2017.
A freedom of information request by the Sunday Mail has revealed that the minister had no officials with him, no notes were taken, and the government claims to have no emails, texts or phone records about the meeting.
Financial deals struck between the Scottish government, Gupta and Greensill have since exposed the government to £500 millions of guarantees after the latter’s finance group, Greensill Capital, collapsed.
Mr Gupta was given the guarantees to buy metal and power plants in Lanarkshire and the Highlands.
But his firm GFG Alliance is now in trouble following the collapse of finance firm Greensill Capital which was Mr Gupta’s biggest backer before going into administration.
Scottish Labour economy spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: “Fergus Ewing has some serious explaining to do over this dinner and there needs to be an investigation into whether the ministerial code of conduct has been adhered to.”
The deal was supposed to involve the creation of 2000 jobs and a new factory but construction has yet to begin and the loan is outstanding. Gupta’s GFG Alliance then used an offshore company to buy an aluminium smelter and hydro plant in Lochaber, near Fort William, from mining giant Rio Tinto for £330million in 2016.
GFG Alliance bought a smelter in Fort William and a Highlands hydro plant from Rio Tinto in 2016 in a £330million deal. Ewing committed the Scottish Government to buying the plant’s electricity if the smelter were to shut.