UK Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi 'secured internship for Kurdish president's relative': report

UK Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi 'secured internship for Kurdish president's relative': report
UK Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi 'arranged an internship for the Kurdish President's relative', according to UK media reports.
2 min read
08 July, 2022
Nadhim Zahawi was promoted to Chancellor of the Exchequer on Tuesday [Getty]

The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nadhim Zahawi, allegedly secured an internship for a relative of the Kurdish president, as his oil firm received expanded drilling rights in the region, according to a report by UK website iNews.

Mazen Barzani - President Nechirvan Barzani’s great-nephew - was given a parliamentary internship in 2017.

At the time Zahawi, who is of Iraqi Kurdish origin, was a backbench MP and an executive at Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP).

The autonomous and oil-rich Iraqi Kurdistan region is of crucial interest to GKP, who own drilling rights in north east Mosul’s Shaikan oil fields and have "a production sharing contract" with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), the news site reported.

Some MPs have as a result questioned whether the nature of the internship offered breached parliamentary standards.

"It is potentially a breach of a number of standards rules. It's potentially abuse of parliamentary facilities, it could also be bringing Parliament into disrepute," a senior MP - who remained anonymous - told iNews.

The share price of GKP reportedly crashed in 2017, after the firm struggled to extract export payments from the government.

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Around the time of Mazen's internship, the KRG allowed drilling in Shaikan to increase, which raised the value of GKP’s shares, iNews reported.

On his LinkedIn account, Mazen says he was a "worker at the office of the honourable Nadhim Zahawi" for one month, beginning in June 2017.

Zahawi came to the UK as a child with his Iraqi Kurdish family in the 1970s, fleeing the rule of Saddam Hussein.

He was promoted from education secretary to Chancellor of the Exchequer - the equivalent of finance minister and the second most powerful position in the British cabinet - on Tuesday, after the shock resignation of Rishi Sunak.

The move followed a tumultuous week in British politics, which led to Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigning on Thursday.

The New Arab contacted GKP for a comment but did not receive one at the time of publication.