Nadhim Zahawi confirms nearly £5m paid for tax error

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Nadhim Zahawi is standing down as an MP at the next election
By Nick Edser
BBC News

Former Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has told the BBC he paid nearly £5m to authorities to settle his tax affairs.

Mr Zahawi was sacked last year as Tory Party chairman after an ethics inquiry found he had failed to disclose that HMRC was investigating his taxes.

He was sorry for not being “more explicit” in his ministerial declaration on the settlement, he told the Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg show.

But he insisted HMRC had found it was a non-deliberate, “careless” mistake.

Mr Zahawi was sacked in January last year after an inquiry by the prime minister’s ethics adviser found he had failed to disclose that his tax affairs were being probed by HMRC.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said at the time that the inquiry made clear there had been a “serious breach of the ministerial code”.

The controversy over Mr Zahawi’s taxes began when it emerged that he had reached a multi-million pound tax settlement with HMRC while he was chancellor in 2022.

It related to the allocation of shares in YouGov, the polling company he set up before he became an MP.

Rishi Sunak asked a top adviser, Sir Laurie Magnus, to investigate, and Sir Laurie found Mr Zahawi had been in contact with HMRC over his taxes since April 2021, reaching an agreement in August 2022 and finalising the settlement in September 2022.

But he found Mr Zahawi had not done enough to declare this within government, and had failed to be open enough in public about what had been going on.

Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme, Mr Zahawi – who is standing down as MP for Stratford-on-Avon at the next election – said the total payment he made to settle the issue was “just shy of £5m”.

“As I said in my retirement letter, my mistakes are my own,” he said.

“I’m sorry that when I had my settlement with HMRC two years ago, I should have probably been more explicit in the details in the ministerial declaration as to how the settlement was arrived at, and that’s my own mistake.”

He added that: “HMRC found that it was non-deliberate, it was a careless mistake.”

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