NADHIM Zahawi, the former chancellor and chairman of the Conservative Party, has agreed to pay millions of pounds to settle a tax dispute with the HMRC.
The MP, who now serves as a minister without portfolio in Cabinet Office, has agreed to pay a seven-figure sum to the taxman after scrutiny of his family’s financial affairs, according to the Sun. The paper said the dispute was linked to his family trust, the Gibraltar-registered Balshore Investments.
In July 2022, while he was running in the race to take over as Tory leader which was eventually won by Liz Truss, Zahawi was reportedly being investigated by HMRC after a secret inquiry was initially launched in 2020 by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
The Independent also reported that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had investigated Zahawi’s financial affairs.
Rebutting the stories which he repeatedly called “smears”, Zahawi said he was not under investigation.
He said: “There have been news stories over the last few days which are inaccurate, unfair and are clearly smears. It’s very sad that such smears should be circulated and sadder still that they have been published.
“These smears have falsely claimed that the Serious Fraud Office, the National Crime Agency, and HMRC are looking into me. Let me be absolutely clear. I am not aware of this. I have not been told that this is the case.
“I’ve always declared my financial interests and paid my taxes in the UK. If there are questions, of course, I will answer any questions HMRC has of me.”
Zahawi (above) is believed to be one of the richest MPs in the House of Commons, said to be worth more than £100 million. He helped found polling company YouGov.
Questions had been asked if Zahawi had avoided tax by holding shares in the polling firm in an offshore company.
Labour chair Anneliese Dodds said there were serious questions for the Prime Minister and Zahawi to answer.
“Why did Nadhim Zahawi claim last summer that he had paid his taxes in full, and that he wasn’t aware of an investigation? When was he made aware of an investigation? Was the prime minister aware of an investigation when he appointed Nadhim Zahawi to the cabinet?
“Finally, why did Nadhim Zahawi claim he was not a beneficiary of his family trust – Balshore Investments – when records show that the money he owed YouGov was paid from the trust?
“Not for the first time, Rishi Sunak’s judgment has been called into serious question. The question remains: is he strong enough to sack Nadhim Zahawi?”
A spokesman for Zahawi told The Sun he had “never had to instruct any lawyers to deal with HMRC on his behalf”.
“As he has previously stated, his taxes are properly declared and paid in the UK.”
A spokesperson for HMRC said: “We cannot comment on identifiable taxpayers.”