Danny McCance 13 Apr 2018 12:58pm

Jeremy Hunt breaches anti-money laundering rules

The secretary of state for health and social care has blamed it on an “honest mistake” by his accountant

Hunt, it is reported, breached anti-money laundering rules when establishing a company to purchase seven properties in Southampton.

Hunt, MP for South West Surrey, failed to declare a 50% interest in Mare Pond Properties – the company used to purchase the seven apartments in Southampton –to Companies House, according to the Telegraph.

This breaches the Companies Act, as Hunt should have declared that he was a “person with significant control” (PSC) within 14 days of its registration, but failed to do so for six months.

According to government guidelines on people with significant control, failing to disclose the required information can lead to a two-year prison sentence.

He also failed to disclose his interest in the company on the Parliamentary Register of Members’ interest within the 28 days required.

Mare Pond Properties was incorporated on 19 September 2017, with Hunt’s wife Lucia Guo being named as director.

Hunt did not register as a PSC until 29 March 2018.

He told the Telegraph that it was an “honest mistake” made by the accountants for the company, Grunberg & Co.

Grunberg & Co has been contacted for comment.

“Jeremy's accountant made an error in the Companies House filing which was a genuine oversight,” a spokesperson for Hunt said.

This oversight was reportedly corrected following the mistake being raised by a member of the public.

“The Hunts set up the company as a vehicle through which to make charitable donations and no salaries or dividends will be taken from it for their personal benefit,” his spokesperson added.

It is also alleged that Hunt breached the Companies Act on a second count due to the registration document for the company in 2017 omitted his name, a criminal offence under a separate section of the Act.

The final act of misconduct came in the form of Hunt’s supposed breach of Parliamentary Code of Conduct, in which any MP must register any shareholding of more than 15% within 28 days, which he failed to do.

“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,” a Downing Street spokesperson told the Telegraph.

In response, MP John Trickett Labour’s shadow secretary for the Cabinet Office said that Hunt’s behaviour was “simply unacceptable” especially considering his position in the government.

“Labour will today refer Jeremy Hunt to the standards commissioner to look into this serious breach,” Trickett said.

He added that Hunt should “have the decency” to refer himself rather than sweeping it under the carpet.