British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted there was “no interest to declare” amid allegations he had a relationship with the American businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri during the time he served as the Mayor of London.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct is currently assessing whether to investigate Johnson over a potential criminal offense of misconduct in public office.
The Sunday Times reported last week that a company run by Arcuri received tens of thousands of pounds in public funding when Johnson was mayor.
When asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday if he declared his friendship with Arcuri, the Prime Minister said “everything was done in accordance with the code (of conduct)” and that “everything was done with full propriety.”
Johnson then reiterated, “there was no interest to declare.”
The Sunday Times alleged Arcuri was given preferential treatment when it came to joining overseas trade missions, despite her business “not meeting the eligibility criteria for any of the three Johnson trade missions she attended in the space of just a year.”
The monitoring office of the Greater London Authority (GLA) said in a statement on Friday that it had referred Johnson to the police watchdog.
“Allegations have been brought to the attention of the Monitoring Officer that Boris Johnson maintained a friendship with Jennifer Arcuri and as a result of that friendship allowed Ms Arcuri to participate in trade missions and receive sponsorship monies in circumstances when she and her companies could not have expected otherwise to receive those benefits,” the statement said.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct is involved because Johnson was in charge of the Metropolitan Police as part of his role as mayor, said the statement.
Arcuri and her company have not responded to CNN’s request for comment. She told the Sunday Times, “any grants received and any trade mission I joined were purely in respect of my role as a legitimate businesswoman.”
The GLA also released a letter it sent to the Prime Minister, informing him it has referred the issue to the police watchdog.
In the letter, the authority’s monitoring officer details instances of Arcuri’s businesses allegedly receiving public money. These include two sponsorships – one of £10,000 in 2013 and one of £1,500 in 2014 – from London & Partners, the mayor’s promotional agency.
The letter also lists three international trade missions in which Arcuri allegedly took part. According to the letter, she was allowed to take part in two even though her companies did not qualify. She participated in the third one after re-applying following an initial rejection.
CNN’s Nada Bashir contributed to this article.