Jeremy Hunt has apologised for breaching anti-money laundering legislation after setting up a company to buy seven luxury flats.
The Health Secretary, who has a personal fortune of more than £14 million, initially failed to declare his 50% interest in the property firm to Companies House – a criminal offence punishable by a fine or up to two years in prison.
According to the Telegraph, he also failed to disclose his interest in the property firm on the Parliamentary Register of Members’ interests within the required 28 days.
The breaches relate to seven flats he bought with mortgages in the Ocean Village complex in Southampton on 7 February this year. The average price paid for properties in the development is about £240,000 per flat, according to Zoopla.
The mortgages were issued by a private bank to Mare Pond Properties Limited, a company set up by Hunt and his wife Lucia Guo. Guo was the only person named in the registration documents filed at Companies House when the company was incorporated in September 2017.
Hunt told the Telegraph the breaches were down to an “honest mistake” by his accountant and that he had corrected the listing at Companies House after being alerted to it by a member of the public last month.
Hunt’s spokesman said: “Jeremy’s accountant made an error in the Companies House filing which was a genuine oversight.
“Although there was no personal gain involved, Jeremy accepts these mistakes are his responsibility and has apologised to the parliamentary authorities.”
But Sir Alistair Graham, the former chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said it is “a very poor show” when ministers do not meet the rules they are required to meet.
“If there has been a failure of leadership, there should be a political price for it. Either in terms of the damage to your reputation or to action by the Prime Minister in the case of the ministerial code, or by the Committee on Standards, which reports to the full House of Commons,” he stated.