Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s alleged financial links to Russia mean he is not a “fit and proper” person to be in charge of the nation’s purse, Professor Richard Murphy, director of Tax Research UK, claimed today
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Rishi Sunak’s wife has a £490million stake in a company that still operates in Moscow and has ties to a major Russian bank.
Multimillionaire Akshata Murthy owns shares in tech giant Infosys, owned by her father, Indian billionaire Narayana Murthy.
Mr Murthy, now chairman emeritus of the company, is a high-profile supporter of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has refused to impose sanctions on Russia despite the bloodshed in Ukraine. India has also abstained from voting in the UN Security Council against Russia’s actions.
The Murthy family’s stake in Infosys is reportedly in the billions. The firm has four offices in the UK and one in Kulakov Lane, Moscow, but is Indian owned and therefore not subject to UK sanctions.
Infosys has reportedly worked with Russia’s Alfa-Bank, which was named in the UK government’s latest round of sanctions on Thursday.
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Its founding oligarch Mikhail Friedman – who owns a £150million mansion overlooking Hampstead Heath – was sanctioned earlier this month.
Mr Sunak’s alleged financial ties to Russia mean he is not a “fit and proper” person to be in charge of the nation’s purse, it was claimed today.
The normally smooth chancellor squirmed during an interview with Sky News as he tried to shrug off a question about his family’s alleged ties to the Putin regime.
Just days ago, Sunak urged British firms to think “very carefully” about investing in Russian ventures that would benefit President Vladimir Putin.
But he looked uncomfortable when Sky presenter Jayne Secker asked about his wife’s stake in the company and if he “gives advice to others you don’t follow in your own home”.
The Chancellor said: “I am an elected politician and I am here to speak to you about what I am responsible for. Not my wife.”
With UK inflation soaring to 6.2% – the fastest rise in 30 years – millions of households will have their finances worried.
The 2022 cost-of-living crisis is affecting energy prices, fuel and food costs, with the government’s only solution so far being to offer all households a £200 loan to help pay off their energy bills – which will eventually have to be repaid.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a fuel tax cut in his spring statement, although it will cost the Treasury billions with no money returning to families’ pockets.
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When asked if Infosys would cut ties with Russia, he replied, “I have absolutely no idea because I have nothing to do with this company.”
Following the exchange, Professor Richard Murphy, Director of Tax Research UK, asked on Twitter if it was “time to sanction Sunak”.
Speaking to the Mirror, the professor of accounting practice at Sheffield University Management School said: “Sunak’s wife has close ties through her family to a company that trades with and profits from Russia and has been a significant source of business for her in recent years, which has resulted in her being worth hundreds of millions of pounds.
PRU/AFP via Getty Images)
“The Chancellor lives in a family of untold wealth, and some of that wealth is currently being backed by trade ties with Russia that she doesn’t appear to want to sever. I’m pretty sure they don’t break them because it pays them to keep them running.
“I follow a rule that is commonplace in finance, which is to ask the question of whether someone is a fit and proper person to do the job. The person must demonstrate that they are independent, can give objective advice that people can rely on, and that their opinions are free from influence.
“Rishi Sunak is the man in charge of our nation’s finances. My question is, is he a fit and proper person to call the shots? Is he objective and able to form an unbiased opinion about what is best for this country, regardless of Russia’s hold on his family’s fortunes? I don’t think he is.”
We asked the Ministry of Finance for an opinion on whether Mr. Sunak’s family ties to Russia endanger his role in government, but received no response.
A spokesman for Infosys said: “Infosys supports and advocates peace between Russia and Ukraine. Infosys has a small team of employees in Russia serving some of our global clients locally. We do not have active business relationships with local Russian companies.
SIMON WALKER HM Treasury)
“A key priority for Infosys in trying times is to continue to expand support for the community. The company has pledged $1 million to help victims of war in Ukraine.”
Akshata Murthy’s shares in Infosys and her other financial interests make her one of the richest women in Britain, with a fortune greater than the Queen’s.
Infosys has worked for the Home Office and has signed a framework agreement with Whitehall, meaning contracts can be awarded without competition. The company employs an estimated 10,000 people in the UK.
Colin Fisher / SWNS)
The Murthy family has invested some of the wealth created by Infosys in a £900m-a-year venture with Amazon in India, while Ms Murthy has a direct stake in a UK company that owns Jamie Oliver’s and Wendy’s burger restaurants in India operates.
She is also a director or direct shareholder in five other UK companies, including a Mayfair outfitter that supplies the tailcoats worn by pupils at Eton College.
Infosys lists a Moscow office among its European points of presence, while in 2016 it announced the establishment of a development center in the Russian capital to support its heavy engineering operations.
Ms. Murthy also runs fashion label Akshata Designs and is also a director of a venture capital firm founded by her father in 2010.
The Sunaks have two daughters and live in a magnificent Georgian manor house in the small village of Kirby Sigston, just outside Northallerton in North Yorkshire.
Thanks to his investment career, Mr. Sunak is a multi-millionaire himself.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/rishi-sunaks-wife-490million-stake-26551479 Rishi Sunak's wife has a £490m stake in a company still operating in Moscow