Probe into £6m in low-cost loans to Commons leader from company he owns
The independent commissioner Kathryn Stone announced that she is investigating a complaint of a breach of paragraph 14 of the code, which requires MPs to make an “open and frank” record of their financial interests in the Commons register.
It is understood that the inquiry relates to a series of loans totalling £6m made to Mr Rees-Mogg by his company Saliston Limited between 2018 and 2020.
The leader of the Commons was reported to the commissioner by his Labour shadow Thangam Debbonaire, who said that if confirmed the alleged loans would amount to “yet another egregious breach” of rules by a Conservative MP.
Mr Rees-Mogg was one of the driving forces behind a botched Tory attempt to neuter the commissioner’s office by appointing a Conservative-dominated committee to rewrite the rules governing her inquiries in favour of MPs under investigation.
The Commons leader admitted earlier this month that he had encouraged prime minister Boris Johnson to force through an amendment setting aside a punishment recommended for Tory MP Owen Paterson after Ms Stone found him guilty of breaching sleaze rules.
The Paterson vote on 3 November came just around a week before the spotlight fell on Mr Rees-Mogg’s own financial arrangements, as it emerged he had not reported cut-price director’s loans which he received from Saliston.
The North-East Somerset MP owns Saliston, even though he gave up his directorship in 2019. It has a stake in investment company Somerset Capital Management, the parent firm of Somerset Capital Management (Cayman) in the Cayman Islands.
Ms Debbonaire said “Over the last few weeks, we have seen that Conservative MPs repeatedly act as if they can put their own private business interests ahead of their constituents and the prime minister must put a stop to this.
“It is right that the standards commissioner is investigating what appears to be yet another egregious breach of the rules, with Jacob Rees-Mogg failing to declare millions of pounds of directors’ loans.
“The prime minister also needs to investigate whether the ministerial code has been breached.
“Labour would strengthen the standards system, with a ban on directorships and paid consultancy, and the House of Commons must be given the chance to fully debate and approve measures put forward by the Standards Committee to toughen up the system”