British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has ordered a tax probe into the ruling Conservative party leader, saying he has “issues to answer” about the dealings. On Monday, Sunak said he had asked his independent ethics adviser, Laurie Magnus to investigate Nadhim Zahawi’s multimillion-pound lawsuit.
“Integrity and accountability are really important to me … There are questions that need answering and that is why I have asked our independent adviser to get to the bottom of everything,” Sunak told reporters. He added that Zahawi would remain as party chairman during the investigation and had agreed to “fully cooperate” with the probe. Zahawi said he welcomed the move and looked forward to explaining the “facts of the issue”, adding he would not discuss it further while the investigation was underway.
Zahawi has said questions were raised about his tax affairs when he was made finance minister last year by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, prompting him to raise them with government officials and the tax office, which disagreed with the number of shares given to his father. “So that I could focus on my life as a public servant, I chose to settle the matter and pay what they said was due, which was the right thing to do,” he said in a statement on Saturday. He also said the tax office found he had not set up offshore tax arrangements, but the statement did not address whether he paid a penalty to the tax office.
“Everybody knows it’s wrong. He has no intention of stepping down and that’s why the prime minister needs to show leadership,” Labour leader Kiel Sturmer told reporters on Monday. His first words were the promise of integrity and accountability. Well, if those words mean anything, the prime minister should fire him and fire him today.