Rishi Sunak faces parliamentary probe over wife Akshata Murty’s business share

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is under investigation over a possible breach of his parliamentary obligations related to the disclosure of his business interests. The details of the investigation became public today.

UK’s Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards is probing whether Prime Minister Rishi Sunak failed to disclose business interests connected to his wife Akshata Murty. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@RishiSunak

According to the Press Trust of India, the investigation is focused on the share of Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murty, in a company named Koru Kids Ltd. It is believed that this company received benefits under a provision of the UK Spring Budget that offered people incentives to become child minders.

It has been revealed by the UK Companies House register that Akshata Murty is a shareholder in Koru Kids. This childcare firm is one of a handful of such agencies in the country that are listed on the UK government’s website.

The investigation has been initiated by the UK’s Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, an independent officer of the House of Commons.

Non-dom controversy

Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murty faced public ire in the UK a year ago, over the latter’s “non-dom” status, which gave her some tax relief. “Non-dom” or non-domicile status means that Akshata did not have to pay a large amount of tax in the UK for dividend income earned from her shares in Infosys, the Indian infotech giant founded by Akshata’s father, NR Narayana Murthy.

She had earned dividend income of about GBP11.6 million from her shares in Infosys in 2021. Had she paid like a regular UK taxpayer in the highest bracket, she would be charged GBP4.4 million in taxes. However, as a non-dom, that tax rate did not apply to her.

Critics argued that remaining non-dom was her choice to avoid paying a 38.1 per cent tax (later increased to 39.35 per cent). Though her dividend earnings from India-based Infosys had little or nothing to do with any UK business income, Akshata later said that she was willing to pay tax as per the UK rate on her worldwide income.

Akshata Murty at a book reading in her official residence. Photo courtesy: Instagram/@akshatamurty_official

After the financial year 2022-23 ended in India on March 31, Infosys announced a dividend payout that would give Akshata a sum above INR68 crore (GBP6.7 million).