Cabinet Minister Oliver Dowden received more than £8,000 in fees for ‘political advice’ to the company from a hedge fund manager who hosted a champagne reception for former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng on the day of the disastrous mini budget.
Dowden, a close ally of Rishi Sunak, was briefly employed by Caxton Associates, Andrew Law’s hedge fund, after he resigned as chairman of the Conservative Party earlier this year.
Law, a major party donor, hosted a reception for Conservative supporters and business leaders at his home on Kwarteng’s mini-budget night, which sparked market turbulence.
It was later reported by The Times that Law’s hedge fund had shorted the pound and likely profited from the decline in its value triggered by the mini-budget. Law is also a major donor to the party, having given more than £3m to the Tories over nearly two decades.
There is no indication that Kwarteng provided any hedge funds or conservative donors with inside information, or that any of the hedge funds traded on information that was not public.
A Conservative Party spokesman said at the time that it was ‘not unusual for politicians to attend political fundraisers’ and that ‘absolutely no information was given to those present. which was not already in the public domain”.
Dowden provided “policy advice” to Caxton Associates in October while still a Tory MP, although he was in cabinet until June.
He was cleared for the Professional Appointments Advisory Committee post, earning £8,398 for 12 hours of work between September 24 and October 24 when he resigned to join Sunak’s government as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, working from the Cabinet Office.
In his letter of advice approving the job, Acoba said, “You have sought the committee’s advice on making a part-time paid appointment with Caxton. You stated that Caxton is a global macro hedge fund founded in 1983.
“The website states that its goal is to provide ‘…consistent absolute returns to its investors regardless of the market environment.’ He says he uses: “Strict analysis, disciplined risk management and a relentless pursuit of excellence underpin Caxton’s reputation as a market leader.
“You informed the committee that you will be a political adviser to provide advice and analysis on international and UK political developments. You said that this role did not involve contact with the government and that your draft contract would include a specific clause stating that “…for the avoidance of doubt, Caxton does not retain you as an adviser for the purpose or intention of influencing or affecting, in any way, any current or proposed legislation or any government official or action”.
Dowden also took a £5,000-a-month job with a company called Pierce Protocols as Heni, an “international arts services company”.
Dowden’s work for the hedge fund and the art sector comes after MPs’ second jobs came under scrutiny last year.
Under Boris Johnson, the government has suggested it could set a limit on the hours and/or pay of second jobs for MPs. The former PM had vowed to crack down on MPs’ second jobs after the Owen Paterson lobbying scandal and a furor over Geoffrey Cox being paid nearly £6m as a lawyer since entering parliament , voting by proxy on days when he undertook paid work.
However, he later dropped proposals saying a cap on revenue would be impractical.
Other former ministers to have had second jobs in the past year include Gavin Williamson, a former education secretary who took a £50,000-a-year job with higher education company RTC Education offering higher national diplomas, which is linked to two Tory donors Selva Pankaj and Maurizio Bragagni.
Williamson left RTC Education on joining Sunak’s government as Minister of State without Portfolio. Two weeks later he resigned from the government over allegations of intimidation, which he denies.
The Cabinet Office and Law have been approached for comment.