Revealed: The Whitehall tax detective who made Nadhim Zahawi pay £5m

Revealed: The Whitehall tax detective who made Nadhim Zahawi pay £5m

The identity of Whitehall’s “international tax detective” who is credited with getting Nadhim Zahawi to pay £5million – including a £1million penalty – to HM Revenue and Customs may be revealed by The Independent.

Tom Gardiner, who received an OBE in 2018 for his life fighting tax crime, led a two-year investigation into Mr Zahawi.

The investigation, which began in 2020, is believed to be ongoing when Mr Zahawi was in charge of HMRC as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr Gardiner, Deputy Director of HMRC, is the ‘Head of Intelligence’ of his ‘Offshore Directorate’.

He has worked for HMRC since 1985 and is recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on global tax crime and money laundering.

The citation for his OBE said he was honored for “services to revenue protection.”

Insiders say his forensic skills as a financial detective have saved UK taxpayers “tens of millions of pounds” over many years.

Mr Gardiner’s boss, HMRC chief Jim Harra, is expected to be questioned about how the organization is handling inquiries into ministers’ tax affairs when he appears before the Commons Public Accounts Committee on Thursday.

The matter is all the more sensitive in the case of Mr Zahawi, who was investigated when he was Chancellor and whose duties include overseeing HMRC.

In a statement released on Saturday, he said his appointment as Tory leader in October had been approved by the Cabinet Office.

However, Labor MPs have pointed out that his statement did not say the Cabinet Office had canceled his appointment as Chancellor of the Exchequer in July last year when The Independent was the first to report the dispute over his tax affairs.

Mr Zahawi, who is reported to be worth almost 5m. The dispute includes claims he has tried to avoid tax by keeping millions of pounds in an offshore trust, arguing some of it belongs to his father.

An ex-colleague of Mr Gardiner said he was “well respected, reserved and determined,” adding lightheartedly, “He’s a cross between Martin Lewis (the finance guru) and Sherlock Holmes.”

Tom Gardiner has been credited for saving taxpayers millions of pounds

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Tom Gardiner has been credited with saving taxpayers millions of pounds

(law enforcement by the bailiwick)

In 2018, Mr Gardiner signed a new anti-money laundering deal with Guernsey in the Channel Islands on behalf of the UK government.

He has led a global UK campaign to heal international tax cheats.

He played a prominent role at a Tax Compliance and Transparency Conference organized by the UK Government in Singapore in 2018, where ways to tackle tax crime were discussed with the US, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands.

The host wrote at the time: “HMRC’s Tom Gardiner gave an insightful presentation on the work he is leading in tackling tax crime enablers and facilitators.”

Mr. Gardiner was praised for his work against “bad actors doing the wrong thing”.

The aim of the conference was to “fight international and transnational tax crime and money laundering”.

It included “improving existing investigative and intelligence programs…identifying significant targets for new investigations…enhancing tactical intelligence.”

This is critical to gaining a “deeper understanding of the methods, weaknesses and risks of offshore tax crime and cybercrime that pose risks to all tax jurisdictions”.

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