THE UK’s top tax collector admitted yesterday that he should not have struck a secret deal with Goldman Sachs to forgive a chunk of unpaid tax.
David Hartnett was called before a committee of MPs to explain his role in agreeing a deal that saved the bank up to £10m in interest on a tax bill it had fought for five years in court.
Referring to the agreement, Hartnett said: “I’m entirely responsible for the Goldman Sachs mistake.”
Although the revenue in question is a drop in the ocean for both HMRC and Goldman, it threatens to cost the civil service its top taxman.
Jesse Norman MP, member of the influential Treasury Select Committee (TSC), called for Hartnett to resign, claiming he had misled the TSC over his role in the Goldman deal.
“He strongly implied that he was not involved in the Goldman Sachs case,” Norman blogged. The MP also complained that Hartnett had said that he was not legally permitted to discuss the matter in detail with MPs.
Legal advice to HMRC published online shows that its lawyers strongly advised against discussing it for fear of breaking confidentiality laws, but the ultimate decision rested with Hartnett.
Goldman declined to comment.