Sajid Javid Under Pressure On Stock Options At US Health Technology Firm | Sajid Javid
Health Secretary Sajid Javid faces questions about the stock options he continues to hold in the U.S. high-tech company he worked for until his return to government in June – and which operates in the health sector.
Javid was paid the equivalent of £ 150,000 a year by C3.ai, a California-based artificial intelligence (AI) company, from October of last year until he got the job of health secretary.
As part of his compensation, he also received “an option for 666.7 shares per month”.
According to the Health Secretary’s current entry in the Members’ Interest Register, he continues to hold these options, which he says have a market value of around £ 45,000.
Labor deputy chief Angela Rayner has written to the Prime Minister’s ethics adviser Lord Geidt to ask if this represents a conflict of interest.
“In September, the Secretary of State’s Department announced that the use of AI would reduce waiting lists in our NHS,” she wrote, suggesting that the idea that the Department of Health could spend taxpayer dollars on AI “could clearly be seen as beneficial to an AI business”.
The ministerial code specifies that “ministers must scrupulously avoid any danger of a real or perceived conflict of interest between their ministerial function and their private financial interest”.
Employee stock options generally allow the beneficiary to purchase a specified number of shares at a predetermined price, sometimes on a particular future date.
Their value fluctuates with the company’s stock price, so they are used to give staff an interest in the appreciation of the company’s value. Details on when Javid’s options can be cashed out have not been released.
C3.ai is a California-based tech company that went public on the New York Stock Exchange in December 2020. Of the nine industry sectors listed on its website, it includes “healthcare” and “government”.
It has a branch in the UK and is currently recruiting sales and marketing staff in the UK. Javid advised the firm on “the global economy, geopolitics and market opportunities”.
The NHS was already increasing spending on AI before Javid took office, but he recently highlighted his potential role in tackling health injustices.
“Technology, especially AI, can be an incredible force for good. This can save clinicians valuable time and help provide faster, more accurate diagnosis, so patients can access the care they need as quickly as possible, ”he said. “It can also help us better understand racial differences so that we can train our staff to look for different symptoms or complicating factors, diagnose faster and tailor treatments. “
Javid held the position at C3.ai alongside another advisory role, with US bank JP Morgan from August 2020 to June 2021, for which he was also paid the equivalent of £ 150,000 per year. He took on this role six months after stepping down as chancellor. Javid previously worked for JP Morgan before entering parliament. Both of these jobs were released by the Independent Advisory Board on Business Appointments, which reviews the jobs of former ministers.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Affairs (DHSC) said: “The Secretary of State acted in accordance with the departmental code and correctly declared these stock options in the usual manner.”
Aides suggested that he started the process of divesting himself of options when he became health secretary, but that the process was difficult because the stock options market is not very liquid.
Javid unexpectedly became health secretary in June, when Matt Hancock resigned after being filmed clinch with Gina Coladangelo, a longtime friend who had made DHSC payroll.