British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has assigned his independent advisor to the Prime Minister to investigate what has been revealed regarding tax affairs related to Nazim Al-Zahawi.
Sunak said there were “questions that need answers” in the case.
The head of the ruling Conservative Party in Britain faces calls to resign, after revealing that he paid a fine to the Department concerned with collecting taxes in Britain, which is known as “Her Majesty’s Department of Revenue and Customs.”
Al-Zahawi was fined for not paying tax while serving as finance minister, as part of a multimillion-pound dispute.
Al-Zahawi argues that he was “confident that he acted appropriately at all times”.
While visiting a hospital in Northamptonshire, central England, Sunak told reporters, “Integrity and accountability are very important to me, and it’s clear in this case that there are questions that need answers.”
And the Prime Minister added, “For this reason, I asked our independent advisor to stand on the origin of everything, investigate the whole matter and find out the full facts before advising me on what action should be taken against Nazim Al-Zahawi in accordance with the ministerial code of conduct.”
Sunak noted that Zahawi remains in the presidency of the Conservative Party during the investigation, noting that he had agreed to “cooperate fully.”
In a statement, Al-Zahawi said he welcomed the investigation and looked forward to “clarification of the facts of this case” to Sir Laurie Magnus – the Prime Minister’s independent advisor.
Al-Zahawi added, “In order to ensure the independence of this process, it must be understood that it is inappropriate to raise this issue for further discussion while I am carrying out my duties as Chairman of the Conservative Party.”
Meanwhile, opposition parties demanded the immediate dismissal of Zahawi from office.
People close to Al-Zahawi told the BBC that he was determined to remain in his position as head of the governors, despite the growing confusion over his tax affairs.
On Saturday, Al-Zahawi confirmed that he had pushed to settle a dispute with Her Majesty’s Department of Revenue and Customs.
The BBC has learned that the dispute was resolved between July and September last year, when Zahawi was finance minister, and that the total amount paid was about £5m, including a fine.
The Guardian newspaper published an article earlier in which it reported that Al-Zahawi had paid the due tax, in addition to a 30 percent fine, totaling 4.8 million pounds.
Al-Zahawi said Her Majesty’s Department of Revenue and Customs accepted that the error was the result of “inadvertent negligence”.
The tax was related to the acquisition of a share in the global opinion polling company YouGov, which Al-Zahawi co-founded in 2000 before becoming a member of parliament.
And Labor Party leader Keir Starmer said that opening an investigation was “not enough” with Al-Zahawi, who “should not remain in office as chairman of the Conservative Party.”
“The prime minister should fire Zahawi today and show some leadership,” Starmer said.
The first minister in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, accused Sunak of trying to cover up the Zahawi case by launching an investigation.
Sturgeon considered that Al-Zahawi’s position was “indefensible” and that he should resign or be dismissed.
The Liberal Democrats have also called for Zahawi’s dismissal or suspension while the investigation is in progress.
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