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'Lenient' tax deals to be probed by Audit Office

Controversial deals struck by the taxman with multinational companies that owe enormous amounts in tax are to be investigated by the National Audit Office.

The inquiry follows some recent high-profile cases in which companies were said to have been let off far too lightly. Among the most controversial was HM Revenue & Custom's £1.2bn tax deal with telecommunications company Vodafone. Critics claimed that the company should have been ordered to pay closer to £6bn.

A spokesman for the National Audit Office said the review had been prompted by such cases but they would not be reassessed. The study will look at policy not individual tax bills. "We're auditors not taxmen," a spokesman said.