Former millionaire chancellor in hot water on tax matters

Nadhim Zahawi, the Tory chairman in hot water over his tax affairs, is a multi-millionaire ex-businessman who rose to political power in a flash.

He has a convincing history as an entrepreneur after arriving in the UK as a refugee who does not speak English.

Born in Iraq to Kurdish parents, Zahawi came to England at the age of nine when his parents fled Saddam Hussein’s regime.

He grew up in Sussex and studied chemical engineering at University College London.

In 2000, Zahawi co-founded the research firm YouGov, remaining involved in running the successful firm for a decade and rising to considerable wealth.

But his financial affairs have come under the spotlight amid claims he evaded taxes by using an offshore company registered in Gibraltar to hold shares in YouGov, allegations he denies.

He recently admitted he had paid what HM Revenue & Customs “was owed” after the tax authority “disagreed on the exact allocation” of the founders’ shares held by his father.

Nadhim Zahawi

Nadhim Zahawi was chancellor from July to September last year (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Zahawi is believed to be one of the wealthiest politicians in the House of Commons.

He first entered Parliament in 2010 as the Tory MP for Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire.

He spent nearly eight years on the back benches, gaining media attention in 2013 when he sought reimbursement for the cost of heating the stables for his horses.

Receiving his first role as junior minister in the Department for Education under Theresa May in 2018, he was soon promoted to become education secretary.

But when he was promoted to help lead the government’s 2020 Covid-19 vaccine rollout, he rose to prominence.

Mr Zahawi was appointed chancellor by Boris Johnson last summer, hours after Rishi Sunak’s dramatic resignation and a day before the scandal-ridden prime minister at the time was forced to resign.

Meeting of the Council of Ministers

Cabinet of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

There are questions as to whether Mr Zahawi negotiated the dispute with HMRC during his two-month job when he was in charge of taxation in the country.

He made a doomed attempt to replace Mr Johnson in the Tory leadership race.

When Liz Truss won, she appointed Mr. Zahawi Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

After her premiership imploded, Zahawi initially announced he would support Johnson to return as prime minister before switching allegiance to Mr Sunak later that day after the former leader said he would not enter the contest.

Mr Sunak now faces questions about how much he knew about Mr Zahawi’s tax affairs when he brought him into his cabinet as cabinet minister without portfolio and chairman of the Conservative Party.

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