Rishi Sunak has defended his wife against claims that their family are benefiting from doing business with Russia.
The chancellor’s wife, Akshata Murthy, owns shares of Infosys, an Indian IT company founded by her billionaire father with huge assets in Moscow.
As an Indian company, Infosys is not subject to the sanctions imposed by the British Government. It has an office on Kulakov Lane in Moscow and in 2016 set up a development centre in the Russian capital.
At the time the company said the base would operate as a centre of excellence “in turbomachinery, aerospace and automotive” tapping into the “wealth of heavy engineering skills” in the country.
Infosys also reportedly has historic ties with Russia’s fourth-largest financial institution Alfa-Bank, which had its assets frozen today by the UK government in the latest round of sanctions.
It is controlled by Mikhail Friedman who was sanctioned by Britain earlier this month and his business partners. Friedman, who was born in Ukraine, owns Athlone House, a £150 million mansion overlooking Hampstead Heath.
Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murthy has shares that equate to a £490million stake in the company.
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.
Rishi Sunak’s father-in-law Mr Murthy, is 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 in UN security council votes against Russia’s actions.
The Murthy family’s stake in Infosys reportedly runs to several billion. The firm has four offices in the UK as well as one in Kulakov Lane, Moscow, but is Indian-owned so not subject to UK sanctions.
Its shares have rocketed in recent years and Infosys is now worth more than $100 billion, making it the world’s 138th most valuable company. The Murthy family’s 2.8 per cent holding is worth almost $3 billion (£2.3 billion) at the current share price.
Infosys has reportedly worked with Russia’s Alfa-Bank, which was on Thursday named in the latest round of sanctions by the UK government.
Its founding oligarch Mikhail Friedman – who owns a £150million mansion overlooking Hampstead Heath – was sanctioned earlier this month.
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.
So far Mr Sunak has refused to engage with questions about Infosys telling Sky News presenter Jayne Secker that “I’m an elected politician and I am here to talk to you about what I am responsible for, my wife is not.”
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.”
Rishi Sunak denies having “benefited from Vladimir Putin’s regime” due to his wife’s investment in the IT company.
Just days ago, Sunak urged British firms to think “very carefully” about investing in Russian ventures that would benefit President Vladimir Putin.
Following the exchange, Professor Richard Murphy, Director of Tax Research UK, asked on Twitter if it was “time to sanction Sunak”.
Is it time to sanction Sunak?— Richard Murphy (@RichardJMurphy) March 24, 2022
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.