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U.K. PM denies wrongdoing as police watchdog reviews U.S. businesswoman link

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson leaves his hotel for the Andrew Marr Show on September 29
Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, under review by the police watchdog over conflicts of interest allegations concerning American businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri when he was London mayor, told the BBC Sunday there's "no interest to declare."

Why it matters: Johnson could face a possible criminal investigation over the claims, first reported by the Sunday Times, as fresh allegations emerged Saturday night.

Catch up quick: The Sunday Times reported previously that Arcuri’s companies received 2 sponsorship grants from Johnson's promotional agency while he was mayor and a 3rd grant this year valued at £100,000 ($123,000) from a former ministerial colleague in the government’s Department for Digital, Culture and Sport.

  • Per the BBC, the office said in a letter to Johnson, "[I]t has been brought to my attention that you maintained a friendship with Ms 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."

Fresh allegations: The Observer reported late Saturday that Arcuri loaned more than £700,000 ($860,000) to her tech firm just before it won a £100,000 government grant. "It is unclear where the money channelled to Hacker House, a start-up with hardly any income, came from," The Observer said. "This adds to the mystery swirling around the American businesswoman ... and raises further questions for the government."

  • The Sunday Times reported late Saturday that Arcuri told 4 friends that she had an affair with Johnson while he was mayor.
  • The news outlet said David Enrich, now the New York Times' finance editor, had been told of the alleged relationship by 2 of her friends when he was working for another paper and that this account was corroborated by other sources who had spoken to Arcuri.

Context: The Independent Office for Police Conduct is reviewing the report concerning Johnson's time as mayor from 2008 to 2016 because London's mayor is also the capital's police and crime commissioner, the BBC notes.

The big picture: Johnson has had a turbulent start to his premiership since being elected Conservative Party leader in July. He lost 6 votes in the Houses of Commons before suspending Parliament, which the Supreme Court ruled last Tuesday unlawful, prompting the legislature's return.

  • He's also lost the government's majority, and the Conservative Party expelled 21 lawmakers for voting to take control of the legislative agenda in an effort to stop him from forcing through a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31.

Go deeper: The scramble to build barriers to Boris

Editor's note: This article has been updated with Johnson's comments.