UK Prime Minister Sage Sunak Conservative Party chairman Nadim Zahavi bowed to pressure on Sunday by sacking him for “serious breaches” of the ministerial code, days after criticism of his personal tax regime.
Sunak Last week ordered his ethics adviser to investigate Zahawi after claims he paid a penalty as part of a reported £4.8 million ($5.96 million) settlement with tax officials. It was alleged that Zahavi had not declared the dispute with the tax authorities.
Zahawi was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer – Chancellor of the Exchequer by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in July last year. He was in cabinet under Johnson’s successor, Liz Truss, and her successor, Sunak, who made him party chairman.
In a letter to Zahavi, Sunak said that, after the completion of the investigation, “it is clear that there has been a serious violation of the ministerial code. As a result, I have informed you of His Majesty’s government’s decision to remove you from your post.” The UK Ministerial Code sets out the standards of behavior expected of ministers and how they carry out their duties.
Reports of Zahawi’s multi-million-pound settlement with tax officials have shocked Britons, many of whom are struggling to survive amid a cost-of-living crisis.
The opposition Labor Party said Sunak, who came to office promising “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level”, should have fired Zahavi when the claims were first reported this month instead of trying to buy time by launching an investigation.
Senior Labor lawyer Bridget Phillipson told Sky News the scandal exposed Sunak as a “weak” leader.
“The stench of sleaze just hangs around the Conservative Party,” he said.
Sunak himself has been investigated over his wife’s tax arrangements intact statue, the daughter of an Indian billionaire. Last year, Sunak and Murthy appeared on the Sunday Times Rich List of the UK’s 250 richest people – the newspaper estimated their combined net worth at £730 million ($826 million).
Last year it emerged that Murthy enjoyed “non-resident” status in the UK which meant he could legally avoid paying UK tax on his overseas earnings from his family’s Infosys business group.
Last week he apologized for receiving his second police fine, for not wearing a seatbelt while riding in a car. Sunak was found by police with Johnson to attend a lockdown-breaking party held at UK government premises while he was chancellor.
In a letter in response to his dismissal published on Sunday, Zahawi said it was a privilege of his life to serve in Britain’s governments. He made no explicit reference to the results of his ethics inquiry into tax matters.
“I came to this country fleeing persecution and could not speak English. Here, I built a successful business and served in some of the highest positions in government. I believe that my story would not be possible in any other country in the world,” the statement read.
Zahavi was born in Iraq to Kurdish parents and came to the UK as a child, when his family fled Saddam Hussein’s regime. He is believed to be one of the wealthiest politicians in the House of Commons and helped found the polling company YouGov.
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