Investment

Lamont defends investment by wife’s firm in digital currency company coming to CT

Gov. Ned Lamont defended Tuesday his disclosure of the investment that his wife’s venture capital firm made in Digital Currency Group, which his administration announced Monday would create more than 300 jobs at its new headquarters in Stamford and receive up to $5 million in state funding.

Greenwich-based Oak HC/FT, whose founders and managing partners include Annie Lamont, confirmed Tuesday that it had exited earlier this year its investment in DCG — a decision it said had been made independent of DCG’s headquarters relocation from Manhattan to Stamford.


“Oak HC/FT initially invested in DCG in 2015 and sold their entire position this past April,” an Oak spokesperson said in an email to Hearst Connecticut Media. “Cumulatively, the investment in DCG was under $1 million and equated to less than 1 percent of the company. After six years, we sold our entire position in DCG and maintain no relationship with them.”

Through a spokesperson, DCG said Tuesday that “the investment did not impact DCG’s decision to move to Connecticut nor its discussions with the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.”

Lamont acknowledged Oak’s “investment in DCG going back some years,” while speaking to reporters Tuesday at Mohegan Sun, after addressing attendees at the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities’ annual conference. He had not mentioned the investment in a press conference held Monday at DCG’s future headquarters at the waterfront Shippan Landing complex in Stamford, but he maintained that he and his wife had been transparent in documenting their investments.

“We obviously disclosed that — that was on our ‘recusal list,’” Lamont said. “Everybody that wanted to, knew about it.”

The first-term Democrat, who is running for reelection, added that “as soon as (state economic development commissioner) David Lehman was taking the lead on negotiations and we found out things were happening, we sold our position.”

In an interview Tuesday, Lehman corroborated Lamont’s account. He said that discussions between DECD and DCG officials about state financial assistance for the company started last November and that he learned shortly after those talks began about Oak’s investment.

“The only thing it (the Oak investment) changed was the way I interacted with the governor and Annie. I knew they were recused (from the talks with DCG),” Lehman said. “They cannot be involved in any official action around the decision-making and incentives for all of that because of the investment. I made those decisions and led the discussions and any of the dialogue and pitch for DCG to come to Stamford.”

Oak’s investment did not influence DECD’s decision to award DCG a grant “in arrears” of up to approximately $5 million, according to Lehman. The funding is contingent on DCG creating more than 300 full-time jobs.

“We did our normal recruitment, our normal pitch,” Lehman said. “This is a great company, a leader in its industry, bringing high-paying jobs to Stamford, in a meaningful way in the state of Connecticut. All of that stuff was really powerful. I made decisions consistent with what we would do for other companies.”

At the same time, Oak is also facing increased attention for its relationship with Stamford-based health care information firm Sema4, which has a state contract to perform COVID-19 testing. According to The Connecticut Mirror, the state’s ethics office did not find a conflict of interest with Connecticut’s contract with Sema4 regarding Ned or Annie Lamont.

Amid the scrutiny of Oak’s investments in DCG and Sema4, Ned Lamont indicated that the firm was not planning to invest in additional Connecticut-based companies.

“Unfortunately, that’s it for Connecticut companies,” he added Tuesday. “Annie is in Nashville setting up companies there because Connecticut is pretty complicated.”

Staff writer Julia Bergman contributed to this story.

pschott@stamfordadvocate.com; twitter: @paulschott


Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button