Dave Hartnett

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Dave Hartnett is the former permanent secretary for tax in HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and as such was the department's head of tax. In a career spanning more than 30 years he was an investigator, a technical specialist and policymaker. He was also vice chairman of the OECD's Forum on Tax Administration.

Hartnett 'retired' in September 2012 at the age of 61 years, but has since taken on lucrative and somewhat controversial advisory positions with organisations working with firms that he previously negotiated with as part of HMRC's corporate tax investigations.

Through the financial revolving door

Advising Big Four accountancy firm

In late May 2013 it emerged that the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) and Prime Minister David Cameron had approved Big Four accountancy firm Deloitte's appointment of the former tax chief for a one-day-a-week consultancy position.

Hartnett has previously come under pressure over his 'sweetheart deals' with several big companies, including Deloitte client Vodafone - a deal which saw the firm pay only £1.25billion of an estimated £6billion due (the latter figure is disputed by Vodafone).

A spokesman for Deloitte told The Guardian:

Dave Hartnett will work as a consultant to Deloitte advising foreign governments and tax administrations, primarily in the developing world. He has significant experience in advising such countries on the development of effective tax regimes, necessary to ensure their continued economic growth. He will not work with UK companies or with HMRC.

Caveats were reportedly set by Prime Minister David Cameron on what Hartnett can and cannot advise upon while working for Deloitte.[1]

Baroness Angela Browning, chairwoman of ACOBA, in 2016 criticised the decision of by her predecessors on the advisory board, given accusations that Hartnett reached 'sweetheart deals' with both Vodafone and Starbucks to help them avoid billions of pounds of corporation tax. Speaking to MPs at a committee hearing, she said

'I share that concern...There is often a lot of criticism because of the public’s perception of a revolving door situation with public servants moving into the private sector...’. [2]


In early 2013 Hartnett was appointed adviser to banking group HSBC on financial risks and crime, alongside a former director general of the Serious Organised Crime Agency, Bill Hughes and a former US deputy attorney general Jim Comey, soon after the bank was fined $1.9bn (£1.3bn) by US authorities for laundering Mexican drug money.[3]


Insists he did not need ACOBA's advice on an unpaid advisory role

Since stepping down from his role as head of HMRC, Hartnett has been appointed a director of the International Tax and Investment Center (Itic) - a Washington-based organisation that is accused of promoting the interests of big tobacco in 2013. The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments have confirmed that Harnett did not ask for its permission, something civil servants are required to do if they take a prominent role within two years of leaving Whitehall. Hartnett has insisted that he did not need permission for the unpaid role as nominal director. Documents show Harnett chaired meetings for Itic as early as October 2013, has given talks and is due to speak at one if its conferences in June 2015.

Itic boasts that its sponsors have the opportunity to 'gain special access to partner country policy-makers and legislators'. According to TobaccoTactics.org it is funded by multinational corporations and industry leaders including Philip Morris, Japan Tobacco International, British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco - all of whom have representatives on Itic's board of directors. Internal documents obtained by the The Observer show how PMI intended to use Itic to lobby against the UK's plan for plain packaging for cigarettes.[4]



  1. Simon Neville, Deloitte appoints official criticised over 'sweetheart' tax deals, The Guardian, 27 May 2013 21.16 BST
  2. Daniel Martin, Mark Dathan 'All aboard the gravy train! Watchdog warns of growing trend in ex-ministers landing plum jobs in areas they used to control', Daily Mail Online, 19 April 2016 accessed 5 May 2016
  3. Ex-tax chief to advise on HSBC crackdown, Telegraph 12:26PM GMT 30 Jan 2013
  4. Jamie Doward Former UK tax chief under fire for joining smoking lobbyists Guardian, 16 May 2015, accessed 18 May 2015.