The Prime Minister’s office has defended the businessman and Conservative MP Nadim Zahawi following reports that he paid millions to settle a tax dispute with HMRC. The argument was reported to have centred around payments made to Mr Zahawi during his tenure as chairman of an oil services company in Iraq.
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In response to the reports, Downing Street said: “Nadim is an extremely successful businessman who went into politics late in life and has been a huge asset as an MP since 2010. He has led numerous important projects and initiatives, including driving forward education reform and leading the government’s work tackling radicalisation online.”
A spokesperson for HMRC also commented on the issue, stating: “HMRC does not comment on identifiable taxpayers or their tax affairs.”
Mr Zahawi has denied any wrongdoing and told The Times: “I refute the notion of any wrong doing on my part. All taxes were paid in full at the time, and I have nothing to be concerned about here.”
The reports come amid increased scrutiny over the financial backgrounds of MPs following revelations that several senior politicians had received donations from individuals with close ties to Russian interests. Mr Zahawi is reported to have received a donation of £15,000 from a company accused of being used as a front for illegal payments by a former KGB official.
The Prime Minister has called for greater transparency around political donations, and it is expected that further information on Mr Zahawi will be released in due course.
In the meantime, Downing Street maintains its support for Mr Zahawi, saying: “Nadim has been a hugely valued member of the government team throughout his time as an MP”. It remains to be seen whether this scandal will have any long-term effect on Mr Zahawi’s standing in either business or politics. However, with HMRC refusing to comment further and Downing Street standing by him, they are not ready to let the matter go.
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