Treasury was aware of investigation into Nadhim Zahawi’s finances, sources claim

4 days ago 6

The substance of who knew what astir Nadhim Zahawi’s dealings with the taxman and erstwhile successful Whitehall and No 10 is the taxable of aggravated scrutiny and could yet specify Rishi Sunak’s premiership.

Sunak has sought to put down suggestions helium was alert that Zahawi paid a punishment to HMRC anterior to his assignment arsenic the Conservative party’s seat connected 25 October 2022.

The premier curate initially told the House of Commons past week that Zahawi had already addressed the substance “in full”. But aft the Guardian revealed connected Friday that a punishment had been paid, the premier minister’s spokesperson refused to corroborate that Sunak had been told of this item by Zahawi oregon officials.

Zahawi paid an estimated full of £5m, including interest, astir £3.7m successful taxation owed and punishment of 30%, a root told the Guardian.

Sunak told MPs connected Wednesday: “The issues successful question occurred earlier I was premier minister.”

He added: “The accustomed appointments process was followed, nary issues were raised with maine erstwhile helium was appointed to his existent relation and, since I commented connected this substance past week, much accusation has travel forward. That is wherefore I person asked the autarkic advisor to look into the matter.”

The substance of Zahawi’s dealings with HMRC is present taxable to probe by his morals adviser, the newly appointed Laurie Magnus, who has been asked by Sunak to “get to the bottommost of everything, to analyse the substance afloat and found each the facts and supply proposal to me” connected whether Zahawi broke the ministerial code.

Sunak’s mentation of events is acceptable against much than 2 years of discussions of Zahawi’s fiscal dealings astatine the highest levels successful Whitehall, among Sunak’s ain erstwhile department, the Treasury, and his erstwhile and existent furniture colleagues.

The erstwhile premier minister, Boris Johnson, and location secretary, Priti Patel, were notified of a National Crime Agency (NCA) probe into Zahawi arsenic aboriginal arsenic 2020, the Guardian understands. The probe did not pb to immoderate enactment and determination is nary proposition of wrongdoing.

It is unclear if determination was immoderate narration betwixt the NCA probe and the eventual colony arrived astatine with HMRC by Zahawi, which was related to shares successful YouGov, a institution helium founded.

Sources assertion that, successful June 2022, elder officials astatine the Treasury and Sunak, past chancellor, were made alert of a state of accusation petition from the Financial Times that was owed to person a effect suggesting that less than 5 ministers’ taxation affairs were nether investigation.

In a follow-up email to the Financial Times connected 23 June past year, HMRC corrected the state of accusation response, saying that determination was nary specified probe and that a mistake had been made successful suggesting determination was.

However, a consequent telephone telephone was made to a writer astatine the Financial Times clarifying that a curate was so nether investigation, the Guardian understands.

Sources assertion that Sunak was informed astatine that time, successful June, that this curate was Zahawi. An outline of the probe was provided to the past chancellor, they claim. In that outline, a wide constituent was made that successful specified cases a punishment outgo mightiness beryllium levied arsenic a scope of imaginable outcomes.

Other Whitehall sources confirmed that it is was mean signifier that precise high-risk state of accusation petition responses are flagged to the backstage offices of ministers and property offices of departments. This is to let treatment of the imaginable fallout for the government.

A No 10 spokesperson said: “This assertion is categorically not true. The premier curate was ne'er informed who the idiosyncratic was oregon immoderate details of the case, arsenic is accustomed HMRC processes.” Of the assertion that Sunak knew astir the punishment astatine the clip of Zahawi’s appointment, connected Monday a authorities spokesperson besides said: “This assertion is categorically untrue.”

On 5 July, Zahawi was appointed chancellor amid a flurry of enactment successful No 10 aft Sunak and the wellness secretary, Sajid Javid, discontinue successful a sensational effort to unit retired Johnson successful the aftermath of the partygate scandal.

Despite the fraught conditions, Johnson was made alert of a taxation probe by officials, sources claim.

On 6 July, the Independent reported that Zahawi was the taxable of an NCA investigation.

On 9 July, the Independent reported that Zahawi was the taxable of an probe by HMRC. The aforesaid time it was reported by the Observer that a reddish flag had been raised implicit his assignment to furniture implicit his fiscal dealings.

A spokesperson for Zahawi said astatine the time: “All Mr Zahawi’s fiscal interests person been decently and transparently declared.”

These articles were shared among furniture ministers and work by officials astatine the Cabinet Office, arsenic good arsenic crossed Westminster and Whitehall, according to a assortment of sources. It is not denied that Sunak was alert of the reporting astatine that time.

It has been reported that Zahawi arrived astatine a colony statement with HMRC portion helium was chancellor, a station helium was stood down from successful a furniture reshuffle connected 6 September aft conscionable 63 days successful the role.

Sunak was appointed premier curate successful October past twelvemonth aft the little but chaotic reign of Liz Truss, and Zahawi was among his archetypal furniture appointments.

One cardinal question for the premier curate is whether helium was told astir a colony with HMRC and that this colony included a punishment astatine the clip of appointing Zahawi – months earlier helium spoke astatine the House of Commons connected Wednesday past week.

A root told the Guardian that Downing Street was informed of the punishment and colony with HMRC anterior to Zahawi’s assignment arsenic seat of the Conservative party. Number 10 has powerfully denied that this was the case.