Tax dodger Nadhim Zahawi has suffered a humiliating end to his ministerial career after prime minister Rishi Sunak dramatically booted him out on Sunday.
Zahawi was clinging on to his position as Conservative Party chairman ever since details of his tax affairs emerged in January.
Evading responsibility to the last, in a reply to Sunak, Zahawi didn’t refer to his tax dealings. Instead he insisted he was concerned about the “conduct” of the media when covering the story.
On 20 January Zahawi admitted that he had paid a penalty to HM Revenue & Customs, as part of a total settlement of £5 million for unpaid taxes.
But Rishi Sunak strung out taking serious action. Instead, he merely referred the issue to his “independent” ethics adviser Sir Laurie Magnus, who has over 40 years of involvement in the financial services sector.
Even Magnus found that Zahawi should have declared that he was being investigated, and again later when he paid a penalty.
The former prime minister, Boris Johnson, and home secretary, Priti Patel, were notified of a National Crime Agency investigation into Zahawi as early as 2020.
Every new revelation about Zahawi confirms how very rich people and politicians work together to rack up vast fortunes.
They live in another world where none of the usual rules applies.
For example, we now know that Zahawi’s 2022 Conservative leadership campaign was backed by an investment manager linked to the offshore tax haven of Bermuda.
He took £62,500 from Khaled Saud, personally listed in the Paradise Papers—the leak which, in 2017 showed links between various high-profile individuals, firms, and offshore tax havens.
Zahawi has also not revealed the source of about £30 million of unsecured loans made to his wife Lana Saib’s property company.
Even though Sunak has belatedly ousted Zahawi the stench of rot still hangs over his government.
For months Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has been fending off allegations of bullying and abuse of Whitehall staff.
Reportedly formal bullying complaints by at least 24 civil servants have been filed against the deputy prime minister.
Yet Raab, who sources say created a “culture of fear” in his department, continues in post, while an investigation is carried out.
The corruption of the Johnson years wasn’t a one-off rogue occurrence.
It is rooted in the same system, for example, that, under Labour and Tories, let the bankers go unpunished for the looting that led to the collapse in 2008.
Meanwhile workers are enduring the longest pay squeeze in more than 200 years—with average pay still worth £85 a month less than in 2008.
From oil cash to MP’s expenses—a career dogged by ignominy
Nadhim Zahawi fitted easily into the Tory environment which generally distrusts foreigners but welcomes those who have a lot of money.
He was born into a powerful Kurdish family. One grandfather had been governor of the Iraqi central bank
But Zahawi’s father fell out with Saddam Hussein and fled to London.
He found a way into top Tory circles. In 1999, Zahawi worked on the failed London mayoralty bid by Jeffrey Archer, who two years later was convicted of perjury charges and jailed for four years.
Then Zahawi acted as a fixer for oil companies in post-Saddam Iraq.
Throughout his political career, his excuse for repeated scandals is that he might have been a bit foolish but he didn’t do anything wrong.
In 2013 Zahawi was found to have claimed a £5,822.27 heating bill on expenses. The bill was for a mobile home located in his stable yard and for heating the stables themselves. He said he had done it in error.
Zahawi became junior education minister in 2018.
But his rise was almost derailed just days later when it emerged that he had attended a Presidents Club charity dinner exposed as the scene of sexual harassment. Zahawi said he had left early and had not witnessed “the horrific events”. Now he says his failure to pay his taxes was just “careless”.
Zahawi played a role in the Greensill Capital affair.
Top boss Sanjeev Gupta wrote to Zahawi thanking him for his “personally instrumental” role in facilitating taxpayer-backed loans from Greensill Capital. They became subject to a fraud investigation.
Greensill’s collapse in 2021 ensnared former prime minister David Cameron.
The financial firm provided £400 million of government-backed loans to entities linked to GFG Alliance, the metals group run by Gupta. GFG is now being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office.
Twenty years ago Zahawi co-founded YouGov, the polling group, which would earn his family millions.
Last week a YouGov poll found that 61 percent of people thought Zahawi should resign, with only 29 percent saying he should remain.Original post