London, Jan 23 (EFE).- British prime minister Rishi Sunak on Monday ordered his ethics adviser to investigate a recent multi-million-pound tax settlement made by Conservative Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi amid a public backlash.
Zahawi, a minister without portfolio under Sunak, admitted over the weekend to paying a settlement to the British tax authorities (HMRC) after detecting what he described as a “careless and not deliberate” tax error.
Speaking to reporters in northern England on Monday, Sunak said: “Integrity and accountability are really important to me and clearly in this case there are questions that need answering.”
“That’s why I’ve asked our independent adviser to get to the bottom of everything, to investigate the matter fully and establish all the facts and provide advice to me on Nadhim Zahawi’s compliance with the ministerial code,” he said.
Sunak stressed that Zahawi has agreed to “fully cooperate” with the probe.
Zahawi praised the premier’s decision, saying that he looks forward to “explaining the facts of this issue to Sir Laurie Magnus and his team.”
He added: “I am confident I acted properly throughout and look forward to answering any and all specific questions in a formal setting to Sir Laurie.
“In order to ensure the independence of this process, you will understand that it would be inappropriate to discuss this issue any further, as I continue my duties as chairman of the Conservative and Unionist Party.”
According to the Guardian, the Tory chairman agreed to settle a tax debt to the HMRC with a 30% surcharge and paid a total of 4.8 million pound sterling ($5.9m)
Zahawi, who served as finance minister between July and September last year, explained the surcharge was related to the polling firm YouGov, which he founded back in 2000.
The Labour Party’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said on the weekend that she believes Zahawi’s position is “untenable.”EFE