By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 11 July 2022 • 7:29
New Chancellor says tax allegations untrue and that he is being smeared
Zahawi told Sky News on Monday, July 11 that he was unaware that the “personal finances flag” reported by the Observer newspaper was raised by officials prior to his appointment as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The former education secretary and vaccines minister, who was instrumental in bringing down Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said at the time that the government was not being run “properly, competently and seriously.”
He has since launched his bid to be the next prime minister saying that he had always declared and paid his taxes in the UK and that if he succeeds in his bid, that he will publish his accounts annually.
According to civil servants in the Cabinet Office’s propriety and ethics team, they alerted the prime minister to an HM Revenue and Customs “flag” over Mr Zahawi before his appointment. Despite the warning, Johnson went ahead with the appointment only to be stabbed in the back.
Such flags would in the normal course of events stop someone from receiving an MBE or OBE, with one source telling the Observer that the “idea he could be chancellor or even prime minister is unbelievable.”
The Observer is not the only newspaper to report issues with Zahawi’s finances with the Independent claiming that his finances were “secretly investigated” by the National Crime Agency. That investigation did however not result in any charges or suggestions of wrongdoing.
Zahawi told Sky News that he was unaware of the tax allegations saying: “So I was clearly being smeared. I was told that the Serious Fraud Office, the National Crime Agency, that HMRC is looking into me.
“I was not aware of this, I have always paid my taxes, I have declared my taxes in the UK.”
He added that he was willing to comply with any investigations saying:: “I will answer any questions that HMRC has of me.
“But I will go further: I am going to make a commitment today that if I am prime minister I am going to publish my accounts annually.”
Zahawi is reportedly worth more than £100m (€118m) as one of the founders of the polling company YouGov. Born in Iraq he came to the UK at the age of 11, he said: “The Conservative Party has made me who I am today.
“It gave me an education, it provided my family with a home and, most importantly, it provided hope.”
Zahawi, one of 11 hopefuls, is promising tax cuts and education reforms if successful in his bid to be prime minister, but the tax allegations could derail that bid whether untrue or not.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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