London, Feb 27 (ANI): Britain's top tax official, who visited India to attend a conference and deliver a speech lasting just half an hour, enjoyed a four-night stay in a luxury hotel - at a cost of thousands of pounds to the taxpayer.
Dave Hartnett, Permanent Secretary for Tax at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, flew business class to Mumbai to take part in the low-key conference largely for Indian accountants and tax officials.
Another senior executive, Melissa Tatton, HMRC's Deputy Director of Business International, also joined him on the trip.
The duo stayed on the executive floor of the five-star ITC Maratha Hotel in Mumbai, where each room was for around 200 pounds a night.
The 59-year-old delivered a 35-minute speech and sat on a one-hour panel discussion.
The following day, Tatton spoke to the conference for 35 minutes and took part in a one-hour discussion.
They came to India on December 1, also met senior Indian tax officials and businessmen during the trip.
Hartnett listed his recreations as food and wine in Who's Who, and he was named earlier this year in a study by London's City University as the most wined and dined mandarin in Whitehall after accepting invitations to eat and drink 107 times in the past three years, often with top accountancy firms.
However, the presence of Hartnett and Tatton at the Mumbai International Tax Conference baffled some participants.
"We were very surprised to see someone as important as Mr Hartnett here," the Daily Mail quoted one delegate, a Mumbai-based accountant, as saying.
"Normally this conference is a talking shop for Indian tax accountants and the only people we get from overseas are from companies with products to sell," he said.
A spokesman for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs said that the trip had been carried out for business purposes and it had met the bill - which totalled 6,000 pounds for the flights and accommodation - of both Hartnett and Tatton.
The spokesman said: "Both officials went straight into important business meetings immediately on arrival and so travelled business class."
He added Hartnett had paid for the meals and he would not be claiming for them on expenses. (ANI)