Conservative leadership candidate Nadhim Zahawi has denounced “libel” over his tax affairs, saying he does not benefit from an offshore trust and has never held non-domicile status.
The newly appointed chancellor slammed “inaccurate” and “unfair” reports in the media, adding that he had responded to the allegations in the interests of transparency.
He has pledged to publish his tax return each year if he is appointed prime minister.
The Independent reported that the Chancellor’s finances are under investigation by HMRC after a secret inquiry was initially launched in 2020 by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
The newspaper also said the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had investigated Mr Zahawi’s financial affairs.
But in a statement on Sunday, the senior Cabinet minister called the allegations “defamation”.
He said: “There have been reports over the past few days which are inaccurate, unfair and clearly libelous. It is very sad that such slanders are broadcast and even sadder that they have been published.
“These defamations falsely claimed that the Serious Fraud Office, National Crime Agency and HMRC were watching me. Let me be absolutely clear. I am not aware of this. I was not told that was the case.
“I have always declared my financial interests and paid my taxes in the UK. If there are any questions, of course I will answer any questions HMRC has about me.
Mr Zahawi said he would “go further” to reassure his colleagues and the general public, pledging that if he is appointed prime minister he will release his tax return every year.
Addressing ‘other slanders’, he said: ‘There have been allegations that I benefit from an offshore trust. Again, let’s be clear, I don’t benefit from an offshore trust. Neither did my wife. We don’t benefit from it at all.
The chancellor said he never had non-domiciled status, nor did his wife, and she never used offshore status or a corporation to avoid tax.
“I have never used offshore companies or service companies based in tax havens for the purchase of goods or properties in the UK,” he added.
“I have only resided in one country since arriving in the UK aged 11. I have never applied for tax status in any country other than the UK, neither in America nor anywhere else .
“I responded to these alleged allegations because I believe the right thing to do is to be transparent. I corrected the note. I hope these smears will now be seen for exactly what they are.
Mr Zahawi is considered one of the wealthiest politicians in the House of Commons and helped found polling firm YouGov.
He said: “I make no apologies for being a successful businessman. I am the beneficiary of the British dream and I know it.
“I have done well investing in the UK and I think that is something that should be celebrated. I want everyone to have the opportunity to succeed. »