British Asian Labour MP Keith Vaz is under scrutiny this morning after a Scotland Yard inquiry found he had more than £500,000 paid into several personal bank accounts over a 6-year period beginning 1997.
The Daily Telegraph has reportedly seen a police document which states that funds believed to have been of a “suspicious nature” were paid into 7 different accounts held by Mr Vaz and his wife Maria Fernandes.
During the period in question however, Mr Vaz made no formal disclosures to parliament about additional sources of income apart from his MP’s salary.
He was investigated by the parliamentary commissioner for standards between 2000 and 2001 after allegations that he had benefited from money paid by a Leicester-based solicitor and the billionaire Hinduja brothers.
The minister was later cleared of the allegations but not before he was suspended from parliament for impeding the investigation by refusing to disclose financial information.
Mr Vaz has denied any wrongdoing and told the newspaper that the funds were proceeds from property deals.
Scotland Yard has refused to comment but is facing calls to hand over its evidence to the parliamentary commissioner for standards for a fresh inquiry.
As Chairman of the influential bHome Affairs Select Committee, Mr Vaz is charged with holding to account a wide range of officials and government departments; from the Metropolitan Police to the UKBA.
Conservative MP Andrew Brigden said Mr Vaz should step down from the committee as he has "questions to answer".
‘However, in 1997 the amount apparently rose to £136,566 paid in and £130,427 taken out; rising again in 1998 to £187,103 paid in, including nearly £29,000 in cash, and £191,999 taken out.
‘The following year, £120,394 was deposited and £123,991 withdrawn. In 2000, when the first parliamentary investigation into Mr Vaz’s conduct began, the deposits fell to £8,410.’
Scotland Yard said at least one payment was made into a personal HSBC account from Mapesbury Communications Ltd, a firm run by Mr Vaz’s wife.
But Mr Vaz said the information was incorrect.
In a statement he told the newspaper: ‘These matters relate to two parliamentary inquiries which began in 1999 and concluded in 2003.
‘My finances were discussed by every newspaper in the country for a period of three years and were the subject of extensive examination.
‘All ministers have to report all their financial interests to their permanent secretary, which I did. I had no discussions with the then cabinet secretary or the then prime minister about any of these issues. I know of no investigation.’
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