Rishi Sunak is facing renewed questions about his financial affairs after it emerged that his wife and her family hold a multimillion-pound portfolio of shareholdings that are not declared in the register of ministers’ interests.
Akshata Murty – who married the chancellor in 2009 – is the daughter of one of India’s richest men. Her father co-founded tech giant Infosys, and she has shares in the company worth £430 million – making her richer than the Queen.
The ministerial code complex Sunak to declare any financial interests “relevant” to his job that might constitute a conflict of interests. Ministers are also supposed to declare the interests of close family members.
Richer than the Queen
After he became chief secretary to the Treasury in July 2019, Sunak revealed he was the beneficiary of a blind trust – meaning he can’t make decisions about how his money is invested, but can still profit from his investments.
However, according to a Guardian investigation, Sunak’s declarations make no mention of his wife beyond referring to her ownership of a small venture capital company.
But the paper revealed that Murty and her family hold a score of other valuable interests – including a £1.7 billion shareholding in Infosys, which employs thousands of UK staff and has held a number of government contracts.
Other holdings include a reported £900 million-a-year joint venture with Amazon in India, and a direct shareholding in a British firm which runs Jamie Oliver and Wendy’s restaurants in India.
Murty is also a director or direct shareholder of five other UK companies, including a Mayfair outfitter that supplies the tailcoats work by Eton College pupils.
‘Honesty and Leadership’
A former chair of the committee on standards in public life, Sir Alistair Graham, told the Guardian that it was vital that Sunak declare his family’s financial interests because of “the chancellor’s capacity to determine the government’s financial and business policies”.
“He seems to have taken the most minimalist approach possible to this requirement. Perhaps Rishi Sunak should carefully read the ‘Seven Principles of Public Life’ to make sure he is fulfilling the two principles of ‘Honesty and Leadership’.”
While Sunak and Murty have not responded for direct requests for comment, the Treasury said all proper procedures had been followed.
A spokesperson said that the prime minister’s independent adviser on ministerial interests “confirmed he is completely satisfied with the chancellor’s propriety of arrangements and that he has followed the ministerial code to the letter in his declaration of interests”.