Rishi Sunak is set to become Britain’s new prime minister and the third Tory leader to take office in less than three months.
However, the former chancellor has not had the best of paths to the top job and past scandals may yet come back to haunt him as prime minister. Earlier this year, his and his wife’s tax affairs came under scrutiny after it was revealed that she had claimed non-domiciled status to save on her tax bill..
This coincided with the fine he received for attending a lockdown-breaking birthday party in Downing Street during the Partygate scandal.
Sunak is believed to be the richest man in the House of Commons, with sunday times wealthy list that values his and his wife’s fortunes at £730 million.
His initial success at Westminster sparked a wave of enthusiasm in India, both because of his own Indian heritage and because he is married to Akshata Murthy and thus the son-in-law of one of India’s wealthiest businessmen, Narayana Murthy, to Often hailed as the father of India’s IT boom.
On Tuesday, Murthy congratulated his son-in-law and said he believed he would do whatever he could for the UK.
“Congratulations to Rishi. We are proud of him and wish him success,” Murthy said in a statement.
“We trust that he will do all he can for the people of the UK.”
‘The Steve Jobs of India’
Narayana Murthy’s personal story closely follows India’s own path to becoming a successful global IT hub.
His story of starting his own company using just $250 capital and a team of six in Pune in 1981 is a favorite rags-to-riches story in middle-class families across India.
As CEO and Chairman of Infosys, Mr. Murthy led the company from 1981 to 2014 and has built a reputation among market pundits and analysts as one of the best entrepreneurs in the country.
“What Steve Jobs is to the US, Narayana Murthy is to India,” says Trip Chaudhary of Global Equity Research.
“[IT firms like] Wipro, TCS and Infosys changed the image of India from the land of snake charmers to a place that provides services. They have put India on the world map.”
Having built Infosys, Mr. Murthy is known for his emphasis on business ethics and corporate governance, at a time when nepotism was commonplace among many of Infosys’ competitors.
He decided to become president emeritus in 2014, and the company went on to appoint new leadership completely independent of its founders.
Shriram Subramaniam of InGovern says: “At the time, Infosys was the only company in India where the promoters (founders or major shareholders) did not hold board seats and were entirely dedicated to bringing in a professional CEO. But that was an experiment that failed.”
All Indians remember the extraordinary story of the Infosys crisis in 2017, when Murthy’s appointed executive sensationally resigned.
Vishal Sikka resigned after citing a “drum of distractions” and “false, baseless, malicious and increasingly personal attacks” as his reasons for leaving; the strong implication was interference in the background by Mr. Murthy, clearly reluctant to let go of the reins.
Mr Subramaniam believes the incident should be seen as a blip in the company’s history.
“Narayana Murthy also has her own set of weaknesses… [yes] he was a micromanager, but he did not have an active role in the company after 2014.”
When asked if the company has always lived up to the ethical business practices that Murthy himself speaks about from time to time, Chaudhary takes a pragmatic approach.
“We should celebrate the success of a company, but no one achieved success without breaking the rules and the status quo,” he says.
“If anyone wants to glorify [businessmen] as Harishchandra [a mythological character known for only speaking truth] then it’s your problem,” he says.
Murthy, 75, is now retired and, with his minority stake in Infosys, has an estimated net worth of around $2.5bn (£2.1bn), according to the Forbes 100 Richest Indians list.
Mrs. Murthy’s Investments
The Murthy family were last in the news in the UK in December 2020 due to calls for the UK government’s ethics watchdog to investigate Mr Sunak after a guardian The story suggested that the chancellor failed to declare his wife’s multimillion-dollar business portfolio in the official register of ministerial interests.
The newspaper also reported that Ms. Murthy bought a number of investments through a company called International Market Management (IMM), which runs a restaurant chain and funnels investments through Mauritius to reduce taxes paid in India.
His other business interests include Catamaran Ventures, which profits from Amazon Cloudtails.
Through Catamaran, Ms. Murty also has direct holdings in at least six UK companies: Digme Fitness, Jamie’s Italian, Jamie’s Pizzeria, New & Lingwood, Soroco and Wendy’s.
Questions were raised about the fact that Mr. Sunak did not declare these interests, but to analysts, the way Akshata Murty has run his business would be seen as business as usual by many.
Speaking of his wealth, Mohandas Pai, former head of Infosys, says: “Akshata Murthy is a UK resident, not a taxpayer in India. She is independent rich. She has been rich for a very long period of time.
“She had her shares in Infosys since she was a child. And I am sure that she handles her tax affairs very well following Western practices.”
According to The GuardianMurty bought a five per cent stake in IMM for £500,000 in 2014.
Instead of investing directly in the two Indian subsidiaries that operate its restaurants, according to the report, IMM funneled the money raised from its shareholders through an intermediary company in Mauritius.
The move, which is not illegal, means the company ends up reducing taxes payable on profits in India.
You also don’t have to pay 20 percent capital gains tax, and your tax on dividends also drops from 10 percent to five percent.
The estates may never have been a problem for the Murthy family, given the strength of their reputation in India, built up over decades, but their enormous wealth could continue to create problems for Sunak should he run for the Conservative leadership. aa member of a super-rich elite looking to lead Britain through a brutal cost of living crisis.
A spokesman for the Murthy family declined to comment on the guardian report when you contact the independent.
Mixed reactions in India
While Sunak’s rise to the top job has been warmly received by a number of Indians, it has also sparked political debate about India’s own politics.
As Britain’s first Indian-origin Hindu prime minister, several members of India’s political right, as well as the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Part (BJP), praised Mr Sunak.
While the right wing celebrated Sunak’s Indian roots, several commentators were quick to point out that Sunak was a British citizen and had only Indian origins.
However, the opposition in the country has lashed out at the Narendra Modi-led government for hailing Sunak as minorities face ongoing persecution under his rule.
Shashi Tharoor, a Congress Party MP and former UN diplomat, said that while Sunak represents an important moment in British history when a member of the minority community can be elevated to the post of prime minister, he questioned whether this “can happen”. In India.