Akshata Murty, the Indian wife of Britain’s Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, has made news for all the wrong reasons in the UK and it is taking a political turn again.
It came as other official documents revealed that he did not take his salary for five months when he joined the Treasury last year. He waived the £34,000 top up to his MP’s salary until just before Christmas.
The Opposition has launched an attack on Murty over her non-domicile status which means legally she doesn’t have to pay taxes in the UK for the income earned overseas.
Akshata Murthy is the daughter of Infosys co-founder NR Narayan Murthy. Sunak has had a meteoric rise in Britain's political circles under PM Boris Johnson. He has emerged as strong number 2 in Britain after Prime Minister Johnson. He has ben praised for his work as the Chancellor even during the tough times during the Covid1-9 pandemic. But when it comes to money, Rishi Sunak now finds hiself facing a difficult situation.
Akshata owns £700 million in shares of Infosys, from which she received £11.6 million in dividend income last year, according to BBC. Murty would have avoided £2.1 million a year in UK tax through her non-domicile status, as per BBC’s estimate. There were also reports that she is richer than Queen Elizabeth II.
Rishi Sunak is facing cricism after, reportedly, his wife Akshata Murthy’s financial holdings were not fully disclosed by him.
The Guardian newspaper reports that Rishi Sunak did not fully disclose his wife's assets. In Britain, ministers ought to publish financial details of close family members to ensure transparency in all matters. It is a kind of a ministerial code that has to be followed. It now emerges that Akshata is richer than even Queen Elizabeth in the UK.
The UK minister has accused his critics of launching a “smear” campaign against his wife.
In her statement announcing her decision to pay UK taxes on overseas income, Akshata said she did not want her non-domiciled status to be a “distraction” for her husband.
She stressed that she was making the change “because I want to, not because the rules require me to”, adding that the new arrangements will begin “immediately”.
The outcry against Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murty began after the UK government hiked taxes in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. The Opposition accused Sunak of “breathtaking hypocrisy” and targeted him over his wife’s non-domicile status that shielded her from paying UK taxes on her overseas income.
The couple were also targeted when Infosys did not shut offices in Moscow in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Akshata being accused of receiving “blood money” in dividends. Subsequently, the tech giant decided to shut its Russia office.
The latest revelation comes after Mr Sunak faced demands to reveal details of his financial interests last month, after it emerged he set up a ‘blind trust’ when he was made Chief Secretary to the Treasury in July last year.