LONDON: UK chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak has hit back at accusations that he is profiting from Indian wife Akshata Murthy’s non-domicile status in Britain, saying she has a career independent of him, can make her own choices, and is not “her husband’s possession”.
“To smear my wife to get at me is awful,” Sunak, 41, said in an interview with ‘The Sun’.
“My wife was born in India, raised in India. Her family home is in India, she obviously has a very close connection. She has investments and a career independent of me. She had this well before we met, before she moved to this country. It wouldn’t be reasonable or fair to ask her to sever ties with her country because she happens to be married to me. She loves her country. Like I love mine. She’s not a British citizen. She’s from India. That’s where her family is…that’s where she, you know, ultimately will want to go and look after her parents as they get older.”
He pointed out she paid taxes in India on all her Indian income. “That is how the system works for people like her who are international and have moved here.”
It has emerged that Murthy, 42, pays around £30,000 for her non-domicile status in Britain, which means she legally avoided paying UK taxes of about £20 million over the past seven years on over £54 million in dividends she received from her 0.93% stake in Infosys. Akshata is the daughter of Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy and Sudha Murty.
“It is not her fault she was born into a successful family,” said Conservative multi-millionaire peer Lord Ranger. “This is jealousy from the British establishment targeting someone who is not white. This is not hurting just Rishi, it is hurting the entire British Indian community as he is their role model and all they do is attack him again and again when he has worked so hard.”
Manoj Ladwa, former communications director for PM Modi’s 2014 election campaign, described the attacks on Murthy as “politically motivated, disgusting and misogynistic” attacks that “smack of racism of a bygone era, not Global Britain.”
Yet, the attacks on Sunak continued on Friday with ‘The Mirror’ alleging he had used his influence as chancellor (a post equivalent to finance minister in other countries) to obtain public sector contracts for Infosys. Sources at the tech giant told TOI that Sunak has no connection with Infosys and cannot/does not influence anything it does.