Sunak urged to ‘come clean’ about his wife’s stakes in Infosys

LONDON (Parliament Politics Magazine) – Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour Party’s leader, has asked Rishi Sunak to “come clean” about his wife’s ownership in a company that also operates in Russia.

The chancellor has been criticised because his wife, Akshata Murthy, owns a 0.91 percent share in Infosys, a firm founded by her father and still operating in Russia.

Mr Sunak has described the scrutiny as “upsetting,” and in a recent BBC interview, he playfully compared himself to actor Will Smith, saying “having our wives attacked”.

He agrees with the broad idea that family members should be kept out of political disputes, Sir Keir told Sky News.

However, he stated that the chancellor’s marriage raises a basic point of principle.

“Is their household benefiting from money made in Russia when the government has imposed sanctions?” Sir Keir said.

 It was in the public interest for them to have a response to it.

He wasn’t criticising their family; he just didn’t agree with their political approach.

But he wanted to know: was the chancellor’s family receiving funds from a company that invests in Russia, despite the government’s righteous assertion that no one should be doing so and that sanctions should be in place?

And, especially in light of the horrible situation in Ukraine, they should be doing everything they can to make life tough for Russia while also crippling their ability to function.

So it was not a personal assault, albeit he disagrees completely.

He would have thought  the chancellor would have wanted to come clean and say, ‘actually, I can be very clear that my household does not benefit in any way from any money that has come in any way from Russia during this invasion of Ukraine.”

It was a simple question, and Mr Stramer believes he should just respond.

If he just answered that question, it would truly benefit his wife, he added.

Ministers must ensure that no conflict develops, or could reasonably be believed to arise, between their private interests and their duty towards the public, financial or otherwise, according to the ministerial code.

It goes on to say that when ministers are appointed, they must present a list of all interests that may be regarded to give rise to a conflict to their department’s top civil servant, including “interests of the minister’s spouse or partner and close family.”

The speaker of the House of Commons ordered Labour’s shadow cabinet office minister Fleur Anderson to remove a claim that Mr Sunak was “hypocritical” because his family has shares in the company on Thursday.

Steve Barclay, a Cabinet Office minister, said he would not “engage in a number of sweeping comments that are not about addressing the record of this government,” and that Lord Geidt, the ministers’ interests adviser, “addresses such concerns in the usual way.”

Mr Sunak has previously refused to comment on his wife’s role with Infosys.

Eleni Kyriakou

Eleni is a journalist and analyst at Parliament Magazine focusing on European News and current affairs. She worked as Press and Communication Office – Greek Embassy in Lisbon and Quattro Books Publications, Canada. She is Multilingual with a good grip of cultures, eye in detail, communicative, effective. She holds Master in degree from York University.