Akshata Murty

Akshata Murty is married to the former United Kingdom Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, with whom she has two daughters. Mr Sunak has previously been tipped as a possible future British Prime Minister.

Thanks to Murty’s wealth, in May 2022, Mr and Mrs Sunak were ranked as the 222nd richest people in the UK. The couple were estimated to have a fortune of some £730 milion.f

Murty was born in April 1980 in Hubli, a small town 250 miles north of Bangalore.  Her upbringing was heavily influenced by her paternal grandparents, as her mother and father built the software firm Infosys. Her father, Nagvara Murty, was Chief Executive of Infosys from 1981 to 2002.

By 2019, Infosys’ revenues had grown to $11.8 Billion turning Akshata’s father into a prominent Indian billionaire.  Akshata herself, reportedly owns 0.91% of the shares in the $77 Billion company, a holding which the Sunday Times estimated to make her twice as rich as the Queen.

When Murty’s husband, Rishi Sunak, became the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, her various investments and business interests have come under media scrutiny.

Rishi Sunak’s Wife

With swathes of Britain slightly infatuated with ‘Dishy Rishi’ Sunak, you will no doubt be disappointed to discover that the former Chancellor is already taken.  In 2020, Mr Sunak, had been voted Britain’s sexiest MP.

Akshata Murty first met Sunak when the couple studied at Stanford University in America in 2006. Sunak was studying for an MBA at Stanford on a Fulbright scholarship.

Murty and Sunak were married at a two-day traditional wedding ceremony in 2009, in Bangalore.

Initially basing themselves in California, the couple now live with their two children in Yorkshire and London. Although, according to The Times, Rishi and Akshata own ‘at least four properties’. These include a five bedroom town house in London’s Kensington, a large manor house in Mr Suank’s North Yorkshire constituency near the village of Kirby Sigston, and a property in Santa Monica, California.

Allegra Stratton, the former Downing Street Press Secretary is an old-friend of Sunak, and the godparent of the family’s two children.

As well as running her own fashion label, Mrs Sunak is also the owner and director of a UK-based venture capital firm Catamaran Ventures UK Ltd.

Fashion Label

Murty runs a fashion label called ‘Akshata Designs’. Murty loved clothes as a child which was said to baffle her ‘no-nonsense software engineer mother’, Sudha Murty.

Akshata Murty has previously been shot by Vogue magazine, and declared in an interview with the magazine in 2011 that, ‘I’m about the story behind a particular garment, its authenticity, craftsmanship and protecting a rich heritage’.

Murty has previously described fashion as her passion and claimed that she couldn’t imagine being engaged in anything else.

Wealth

In May 2022, then Chancellor Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty were featured in the Sunday Times Rich List of the UK’s wealthiest 250 people for the first time. Their joint fortune was put at some £730m which ranked them as 222nd in terms of the richest people in the United Kingdom.

Akshata Murty is the daughter of Narayana Murty, the co founder of Bangalore IT company Infosys.  Narayana Murty has been dubbed ‘the Bill Gates of India’.  Akshata Murty’s father was listed in 2012 by Fortune magazine as one of the world’s 12 most successful entrepreneurs.  He is said to be the sixth richest man in India.

Alongside owning her fashion label, Murty’s daughter reportedly owns 0.91% of the shares in Infosys. In  June 2022, Infosys was valued at $77.7 Billion, which placed her holding in the firm at some £572 million.

The Murty family are also reported to have a holding in Amazon India, albeit a joint venture with Amazon was set to end in the summer of 2022 with Amazon reportedly buying out the family’s Catamaran share in Prione Business Services.

Rishi Sunak Net Worth

Non domicile status

In April 2022, the Independent newspaper claimed that Akshata Murty had claimed non-domicile status in the UK, something that the paper suggested allowed her to save on her 2020 tax bill.

The non domicile status was said to occur because Murty is a citizen of India, the country of her birth and parent’s home.  India does not allow it citizens to hold the citizenship of another country simultaneously, and so according to British law, Ms Murty is treated as non domiciled for UK tax purposes.

A spokesperson for Ms Murty said, “She has always and will continue to pay UK taxes on all her income”.  Sky News reported that Murty pays foreign taxes on her foreign income.

Murty’s tax status was criticised by the Labour Party with party treasury spokesperson, Tulip Siddiq MP saying, “It is staggering that his [the Chancellor’s] family may have been benefiting from tax reduction schemes”.  The revelations come as Murty’s husband, Chancellor Rishi Sunak was coming under pressure for introducing a rise in National Insurance and an increase in the cost of living.

In April 2022, Sunak told the BBC that he found the focus on his wife ‘very upsetting’ comparing himself with the actor Will Smith, who reacted angrily to comments about his wife during the March 2022 Oscar ceremony.

Shortly after the non domicile allegations, Ms Murty was reported as being in the process of changing her tax arrangements such that she would now pay UK tax on all her worldwide income going forward.  Ms Murty was said to be keen for her financial affairs not to become a ‘distraction’ for her husband.  She does though retain the non-dom status, which legally will substantially reduce her inheritance tax bill in the future.

Russian investments

In March 2022 following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the decision by many Western companies to stop operating in Ukraine, Akshata Murty’s investment in Infosys attracted public attention. Murty was reported as owning a £500 million stake in the Indian IT consultancy firm, one which continued to operate an office and has one of its delivery centres in Moscow.

The continuing presence of Infosys in Russia received attention given that Murty’s husband, then UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak had publicly stated, “I am urging firms to think very carefully about their investments in Russia and how they may aid the Putin regime”.

Subsequently aasked about his wife’s shares in Infosys and whether this flew in the face of his own advice to businesses, Rishi Sunak told Sky News, that, “I’m an elected politician and I’m here to talk to you about what I’m responsible for. My wife is not”.  Rejecting suggestions that, because of the investment, his family could be benefitting from Putin’s regime, Mr Sunak said: “No, I really don’t think that’s the case.

Furlough Scheme

Soon after his appointment as Chancellor of the Exchequer in 2020, Rishi Sunak was thrust into the national spotlight because of his role in managing the British economy through the Coronavirus pandemic.

Crucially, Mr Sunak was known for fronting the UK government’s Furlough scheme that aimed to provide financial support for struggling companies.

It has been reported that Infosys took part in this scheme and used it to furlough approximately 3% of the Company’s UK staff during parts of 2020. Akshata Murty’s luxury clothing store in London was also said to have legitimately used the scheme to cover 80% of some staff’s salaries during the period.

In the face of claims that then Chancellor Rishi Sunak did not appropriately declare his wife’s interests before he unveiled the furlough plans, the Treasury responded to the media focus on his family’s financial wealth, saying Sunak ‘followed the ministerial code to the letter’.