Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 620 - 639)



  620. Can I turn to people who maybe want cash rather than cheques? I note what you said about your accounts passing the audit, and I am not making any suggestions of any kind. Roughly how often would one of your employees go to get cash, beyond natural petty cash drawings?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) None whatsoever. We have checked, and I have offered to Miss Filkin that she can have a look even at my bank accounts, provided she agrees to pay the bank charge of the bank. No, the only other time when I have cash is sometimes when I go abroad I take, say, part cash and part travellers' cheques, but I am talking of £200, £300 maximum.

  621. So in terms of drawing, say, around £500 to £1,000, except for going abroad, that might happen once every two or three months, it is not a regular thing?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) I am abroad quite a lot. I am abroad practically every month, because ours is an export firm and 98 per cent of our clients are from abroad, so I am practically every month abroad.

  622. But in terms of somebody to whom you want to make a payment, if they say they want cash, that is not unheard of, but rare?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) It would be rare, and we would take a receipt. The bookkeeper would take a receipt. Very often the staff sometimes want a cash cheque, the bookkeeper would come to me and I would say, "Fine."

  623. So if Mr Brown said, "I recollect Mr Vaz coming to collect money directly", say, "for this cause", that is something you say did not happen, but it is a procedure which you say did happen with these two people in relation to the disaster fund?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) I do not think that would be accurate, because Mr Brown would not know it, he would not be involved at all in it. What would have happened at that stage was I would have asked Brown for a cheque "Pay this person £1,000", whatever is the amount. He would have come back and said, "No, they want cash what should I do?" I went up and said, "What do you want?" I agreed, let us give them cash. I would have signed the cheque. Mr Brown, he would have taken the receipt. There would have been no conversation with Mr Brown.

  624. To put a hypothetical case—and I cannot think of any reason why you would do this and, as far as I know, you have not contributed to my election fund.
  (Mr Zaiwalla) No.

  625. If I came to your office, you were going to give £1,000 to some proper cause which was at my behest, and you wanted the bookkeeper to bring a cheque, you would ring Mr Brown and he would come from his office with a chequebook or a cheque—
  (Mr Zaiwalla) A cheque.

  626.—for you to sign. I might be in the room?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) Yes.

  627. If I then explained to you that actually—
  (Mr Zaiwalla) "Give me cash."

  628.—that cash would be more suitable for this particular cause for this particular reason, Mr Brown might be there with the cheque which might then be endorsed for cash or written out by you for cash. What would then happen?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) If I signed it, I would ask Mr Brown to go down and pay them.

  629. So if I find I am in your room, because I am a Member of Parliament, Mr Brown would then go down to the bank, come back presumably with the cash and would give it to me or give it to you to give to me?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) Yes, against a receipt.

  630. So in that case, in this hypothetical example, he might know I was the one who got the money, because he had come into your room twice?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) Yes.

  631. Once to get you to sign the cheque and once to deliver the cash?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) Yes, that is right.

  632. That is a scenario that could happen?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) That could happen, yes.

  633. But you are clear that that did not happen with Mr Vaz, it was people on behalf of Mr Vaz, and Mr Brown would not necessarily have come into your office, but he would have seen these people presumably?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) They were in the reception, it was in the reception.

  634. Mr Brown would have seen them?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) Mr Brown would have seen them.

  635. If Mr Brown was not there, could somebody else have done this?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) Probably my secretary at that time.

  636. But the expectation is it would have been Mr Brown?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) Difficult to say. It must be Mr Brown, because he was the bookkeeper, so it must be Mr Brown.


  637. Can I come in on this point. There are two cheques, as I understand it. The first one was for the charity, which you presumably tore up?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) No.

  638. What happened, because then you changed your mind, or your mind was changed?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) No, I am unable to say with any degree of certainty, and I am conscious I am giving evidence on oath, therefore I must be accurate. There are two possible scenarios. One is that I simply endorsed it to cash and signed it, and the effect of that would be that a drawee or anybody on his behalf could go down and collect money and get cash. The other is to ask Mr Brown to make out a cheque for cash, and I would have signed to cash.

  639. So there could have been two cheques, but there might just have been the one endorsed?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) It could have been. I do not know. I cannot tell. It was not an event of great significance at that time, and at that time I was rushed off my feet, it was a different level of practice than what I have now.

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