London: The UK’s Opposition Labour Party has got into campaigning mode for an expected general election later this year, with advertisements claiming British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is giving the British public a “raw deal” and also raising questions over his wife Akshata Murty’s recently liquidated investment venture.
Labour’s national campaign coordinator and shadow minister, Pat MacFadden, posted a letter on social media dated January 4 that he wrote to UK Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden questioning the circumstances surrounding Murty’s Catamaran Ventures being wound up.
The 43-year-old Indian businesswoman and daughter of Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy had incorporated the venture in 2013 with her husband as one of the directors before he resigned in 2015. It had emerged in a financial statement last year that she had decided to wind down her firm as a going concern.
“In the past few months, numerous reports about the business dealings of Catamaran Ventures have circulated,” reads MacFadden’s letter on X.
“It was revealed that the firm run by the Prime Minister’s wife received GBP 2m through government Covid support schemes devised by Rishi Sunak himself. It then emerged businesses in which Ms Murty had invested went bust, costing taxpayers GBP 1m Colleagues and I have written numerous correspondence to government ministers and bodies. Alongside the outstanding questions, the decision by Ms Murty to liquidate her company raises several others that I believe need to be clarified in the public interest,” it notes.
The letter goes on to question the impact the closure of Catamaran Ventures could have on government-backed education start-up Study Halls that it had shares in and any other companies it retained a stake in. It also questions the arrangements in place for the payment of tax owed to the HMRC, the UK tax department, and whether Catamaran Ventures would be “fulfilling all its liabilities to the British taxpayer?”
A spokesperson for Murty confirmed to the British media that the Catamaran Ventures UK business was wound up by Murty on December 21, 2023.
“As a result, a significant donation has been made to ShareGift, an independent UK-registered charity with experience accepting donations in the form of shares. Ms Murty has shortlisted several charities focused on veterans’ affairs and education for the ShareGift team to consider at the time of disbursement,” the spokesperson said.
The personal finances of Sunak and his wife have previously also been under scrutiny when it was revealed that Murty had legal non-domicile tax status, which meant she did not have to pay UK tax on her Indian income. However, after an Opposition furore over this issue, she had relinquished her non-dom tax status and said she would pay all her tax in the UK to prevent the issue becoming a distraction for her husband’s political career.
“My decision to pay UK tax on all my worldwide income will not change the fact that India remains the country of my birth, citizenship, parents’ home and place of domicile. But I love the UK too,” Murty had said in a statement at the time in April 2022.