Nadhim Zahawi: The millionaire MP who paid a tax penalty whereas chancellor



s he efficiently helped roll out the coronavirus vaccines that saved numerous lives and ended punishing restrictions, Nadhim Zahawi’s political inventory was rising quick.

The Conservative was a transparent and efficient communicator with a compelling story, having change into a multi-millionaire businessman after shifting to the UK as a toddler refugee with none English.

It was for these qualities – and a contact of desperation on scandal-plagued Boris Johnson’s half – that he was appointed chancellor within the dying days of that administration.

Nevertheless it was whereas serving within the Treasury that he reduce a multimillion-pound deal to settle a tax dispute with HMRC.

The estimated £4.8 million invoice included a penalty, and to make issues worse he was finally the minister accountable for the division.

Rishi Sunak, having change into Prime Minister in October, thought-about Mr Zahawi to be the MP to organize the Tories for the subsequent normal election as celebration chair.

However now, after his tax affairs had been dragged into the limelight, the 55-year-old is battling to avoid wasting his political profession whereas below investigation by Mr Sunak’s ethics adviser.

What Mr Sunak knew about his Cupboard-attending minister and when is unclear, however there had lengthy been causes to examine Mr Zahawi’s previous with a scrutinous eye.

It was a backstory being set out in his memoirs “A Boy From Baghdad: My Journey From Waziriyah To Westminster”, which – rewrites pending – was due for publication in September.

Born in 1967 in Baghdad to an influential Kurdish household, Mr Zahawi’s household fled Iraq having fallen foul of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

He grew up in Sussex and went on to review chemical engineering at College School London, earlier than following in his father’s entrepreneurship footsteps.

Mr Zahawi went on to satisfy the then outstanding and later disgraced Tory politician Jeffrey Archer whereas campaigning for Iraqi exiles who wished the overthrow of Hussain.

Lord Archer hailed the younger man as a “born organiser”, as soon as telling the BBC: “For those who mentioned ‘I want six taxis, three aeroplanes and a double-decker bus, all in half-hour, he went and did it.”

He put Mr Zahawi’s skills to make use of throughout his bid to change into London mayor in 1999. Lord Archer, nonetheless, was compelled to abort that marketing campaign in scandal.

Two years later, Lord Archer was jailed for 4 years having been convicted of perjury and perverting the course of justice.

In 2000, Mr Zahawi based YouGov with one other alumni of the Archer marketing campaign, Stephan Shakespeare.

They’d develop the polling firm right into a massively profitable one, and would float it on the inventory alternate after 5 years.

Shares held by Balshore, the Gibraltar-registered Zahawi household belief, had been bought off for an estimated £27 million. The blending of household and enterprise led to the HMRC dispute.

He’s linked to a property empire valued at greater than £58 million, in accordance with data at Firms Home, together with a townhouse in London’s lavish Belgravia.

Along with his enterprise credentials spectacular, Mr Zahawi stood down from YouGov to run for Parliament and was profitable, successful the secure Conservative seat of Stratford-upon-Avon.

Mr Zahawi is named being one of many richest MPs however he was compelled to apologise in 2013 for claiming parliamentary bills for electrical energy for his stables and a cellular house.

He mentioned he had “made a mistake” which he was “mortified” about, and he pledged to pay again any cash that was wrongly claimed.

Then, as kids and households minister in 2018, it emerged he attended a men-only Presidents Membership charity dinner that went on to be on the centre of allegations of sexual harassment.

He was reprimanded by No 10 however mentioned he left early and “didn’t see any of the horrific occasions”, which he mentioned he was “shocked” by.

The next yr he was a junior minister on the enterprise division, which is the place he was when the coronavirus pandemic started in late 2019.

It’s one other interval that’s below scrutiny. David Cameron contacted him as he was looking for Authorities loans for the since-collapsed Greensill Capital.

Mr Zahawi advised officers, in accordance with the Occasions, that he had not exchanged WhatsApps with the Conservative former prime minister. It later emerged messages had been deleted from Mr Zahawi’s telephone.

Covid-19 was straining the nation and Mr Johnson regarded to his outdated ally to roll out the vaccine programme in 2020.

Mr Zahawi described the function of vaccines minister as “a very powerful job I’ll ever do”, and his dealing with was broadly seen as a large success.

Mr Johnson additionally regarded to him to interchange Sir Gavin Williamson, who was this time sacked as training secretary over the exams fiasco.

In want of a chancellor after Mr Sunak’s resignation helped set off Mr Johnson’s personal downfall, he appointed Mr Zahawi to steer the Treasury.

Mr Zahawi made a failed try and win the celebration management throughout his two months as chancellor – a interval wherein he settled his tax dispute with HMRC.

Below scrutiny whereas making an attempt to succeed Mr Johnson in No 10 in July final yr, Mr Zahawi advised Sky Information he was “clearly being smeared” about his tax and insisted: “I’ve at all times declared my taxes, I’ve paid my taxes within the UK.”

A political survivor, he turned chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster throughout Liz Truss’s fleeting management, earlier than Mr Sunak made him Conservative Celebration chairman.

The trickle of tales about his tax affairs got here to a head when The Solar On Sunday revealed he paid a seven-figure sum to HMRC.

Mr Sunak first defended his minister, saying he had given a “full” account. However then the Guardian revealed his settlement included a 30% penalty, taking the estimated complete near £5 million.

Below intense stress, Mr Zahawi mentioned it was a “careless and never deliberate” error linked to YouGov founder shares given to his father.

This modified the Prime Minister’s thoughts. He now believes there are “questions that want answering” and has ordered ministerial requirements adviser Sir Laurie Magnus to analyze.

Mr Zahawi welcomed an opportunity to provide his account to Sir Laurie, saying he’s “assured” he has “acted correctly all through”.

He stays in publish whereas below investigation, regardless of Mr Sunak acknowledging it might have been “politically expedient” to sack Mr Zahawi.

However with the fiasco straining the Prime Minister’s pledge to steer a Authorities of “integrity, professionalism and accountability at each degree”, many in Westminster imagine it isn’t a case of if Mr Zahawi’s time is up – however when.

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