Was Rishi Sunak’s in-laws’ company a ‘beneficiary’ of a UK-India trade deal?

28 April 2022
What was claimed

When Boris Johnson did a £1 billion trade deal with India in May 2021, the main beneficiary was Infosys, owned by Rishi Sunak’s wife and family.

Our verdict

The government announced £1 billion worth of trade and investment made by private companies between the UK and India. This included BP working for Infosys, and Infosys being one of three Indian companies creating 1,000 UK jobs.

What was claimed

Rishi Sunak’s wife lives in Downing Street whilst claiming to live abroad for tax purposes.

Our verdict

Akshata Murty previously lived in Downing Street but has reportedly moved to their home in West London. She has non-dom status for tax purposes, but this doesn’t mean she claims to live abroad. Non-dom status is for UK residents who are domiciled abroad, which is not the same as living there. Ms Murty recently announced she would pay UK tax on all her income.

A post on Facebook claims that when the UK government did a £1 billion trade deal with India the main beneficiary was Infosys, the company “owned by Rishi Sunak’s wife and family”.

In May 2021, the government announced £1 billion of “new UK-India trade and investment” made by a number of British and Indian companies. This included the creation of more than 6,500 new jobs in the UK.

The government also announced an ‘Enhanced Trade Partnership’ between the two countries, which essentially stated an intent to work towards a free trade agreement and reduced some non-tariff barriers.

While Infosys were announced as making one of the largest investments, creating 1,000 UK jobs, and enlisting BP to decarbonise the company’s 11 campuses in India, it’s odd to describe Infosys being a “beneficiary” of its own investment.

The term seems to imply that the company will indirectly benefit from a “trade deal” between the UK and India. What actually happened is simply that Infosys is spending its own money to invest in the UK.

The Enhanced Trade Partnership described addressing specific non-tariff barriers, though it’s hard to say which Indian and UK companies will be the largest beneficiaries. 

The UK government described barriers being lowered on the trade in fruit, medical devices, educational and legal services, none of which appear to directly benefit Infosys, a multinational IT and consulting firm.

Infosys was founded in India by Rishi Sunak’s father-in-law, N.R Narayana Murthy and Mr Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murty, is a significant shareholder in the company.

Following news that Ms Murty did not pay UK tax on her foreign earnings from the company, misinformation about Infosys has proliferated on social media. We’ve written before about false claims that the company is registered in Rwanda.

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What is a non-dom?

The Facebook post also claims the Chancellor’s wife “lives in Downing Street whilst claiming to live abroad for Tax Purposes”. 

Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty previously lived at Downing Street, but Ms Murty has reportedly moved to their home in West London, while Mr Sunak will split his time between the two.

While it’s correct Ms Murty is a non-domiciled resident (or “non-dom”) for tax purposes and lives in London, being treated as a non-dom for tax purposes does not mean you are claiming to live abroad, as the Facebook post claims. 

According to the UK government, being non-domiciled is for “UK residents who have their permanent home (“domicile”) outside the UK”. 

If someone is a non-dom, and their foreign income exceeds £2,000, they can choose whether to pay UK tax on that income, or claim the “remittance basis”. This means they only pay UK tax on the foreign income they bring to the UK. This is an active choice non-doms pay for. Ms Murty paid £30,000 per year to claim the remittance basis.

She has since told the BBC she would be paying UK tax on all her worldwide income, including dividends and capital gains. We’ve written more about her previous tax status here.

Picture courtesy of HM Treasury.

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