Chancellor Rishi Sunak has failed to declare his family’s wealth in a ministerial register, an investigation has found.
Sunak is under pressure to explain how a multi-million-pound portfolio of shareholdings and directorships held by his wife and her family were not declared in an official register of ministers’ interests, a Guardian investigation has revealed.
Akshata Murty, who married Sunak in 2009, is the daughter of one of India’s most successful entrepreneurs. Her father co-founded the technology giant Infosys, and her shares in the company are worth £430 million, making her one of the wealthiest women in Britain, with a fortune larger than the Queen’s.
Minister’s are bound by the ministerial code to declare the financial interests of close family members, including spouses and in-laws, which might present a conflict of interest.
Sunak’s entry of his wife’s interests makes no mention of her family’s fortunes but rather, only references her ownership of a small, UK-based venture capital company.
The Guardian found that Murty and her family had a combined £1.7 billion shareholding in Infosys, which employs thousands in the UK and has contracts with the government; a £900 million-a-year joint venture with Amazon in India through an investment vehicle owned by her father; a shareholding in a UK firm which runs two restaurant chains in India; and five other UK companies where Murty is a director or direct shareholder, including a Mayfair outfitter that supplies the tailcoats worn by pupils at Eton College.
Sir Alistair Graham, a former chair of the Commons committee on ministerial standards, urged Sunak to declare his wife’s interests given “the chancellor’s capacity to determine the government’s financial and business policies”.
He said: “He seems to have taken the most minimalist approach possible to this requirement. Perhaps Rishi Sunak should carefully read the ‘Seven principles of Public Life’ to make sure he is fulfilling the two principles of ‘Honesty and Leadership’”.
Sunak and Murty have not responded directly to requests for comment.
The Treasury said all the proper procedures for declaring interests had been followed, and that decisions about what to declare were not taken by ministers themselves but by civil servants and independent advisers.
A Treasury spokesperson said the prime minister’s independent adviser on ministerial interests “confirmed he is completely satisfied with the chancellor’s propriety of arrangements and that he has followed the ministerial code to the letter in his declaration of interests”.