Rishi Sunak faces fresh crisis as two top Tories dragged into row over tax
Rishi Sunak faces another crisis after sacking Nadhim Zahawi with two Tory bosses dragged into tax evasion row
FIRST Minister Rishi Sunak faces another crisis as two Tory bosses have been dragged into a tax row.
The Mirror reports that Tory treasurer Graham Edwards, who was brought in by Sunak to manage the party’s finances, was found to have used a tax avoidance scheme.
The paper also reports that Tory chief executive Stephen Massey is still working for a firm which encouraged the wealthy to reduce their tax bills by investing money in a controversial movie project.
It comes just two days after he sacked Nadhim Zahawi for breaching the ministerial code.
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Property magnate Edwards has donated £940,000 to the Conservative Party since 2019 and was named treasurer last month.
After a dispute with HMRC, he was found to have wrongly tried to reduce the tax owed on £5m he received in bonuses.
According to court documents, a trust set up as part of a complicated tax scheme was used to buy Edwards a £1.5m country house.
A tax tribunal ruled in 2007 that the scheme was tax avoidance. He challenged the decision in both the High Court and Court of Appeal, although it was dismissed.
Labour’s Anneliese Dodds said: “From the party chairman who was sacked over his tax affairs to the party treasurer who took part in a tax avoidance scheme, Rishi Sunak is drowning in a quagmire of sleaze.
“Rishi Sunak promised professionalism, integrity and accountability at every level, but instead we have a barrage of questions about those he put at the top of the Conservative Party.”
Massey started as Conservative Party chief executive in November, although he remains chairman of the firm Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management, where he has worked for the past decade.
Customers launched legal action against the company in 2019 after it advised them to put their money into a film investment scheme targeted by the taxman.
They complained that an HMRC crackdown had left them with huge bills to pay.
On its website, Canaccord Genuity says it helps its clients invest “in the most tax efficient way”.
Massey donated £343,000 to the Tories, including £25,000 to Sunak’s leadership campaign.
He was temporarily handed the duties of the Conservative Party chairman after Zahawi’s dismissal.
A spokesman for Massey told the newspaper he had “no involvement in the advice relating to this matter, which arose in a company acquired by Canaccord before he was employed by the firm”.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Edwards said: “Two decades ago, Mr Edwards received a bonus and paid full tax and national insurance on it, on the day he received it.
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“The scheme mentioned was a KPMG-led tax recovery scheme which HMRC refused. Mr Edwards paid all tax properly and never received any penalty from HMRC.
“Mr. Edwards bought the property mentioned with fully taxed income.”
The Conservative Party declined to comment when approached by the Mirror.
Sunak said yesterday that he acted “quite decisively” when he faced criticism for struggling before sacking Zahawi.