Indian tech firm Sunak’s wife owns shares in set to close office in Russia

The Indian tech firm in which Rishi Sunak’s wife owns shares believed to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds is closing its office in Russia, Sky News understands.

The chancellor’s wife Akshata Murthy has a 0.91% stake in Infosys, a company founded by her father, which had continued to operate in Russia since the invasion of Ukraine.

Her share of the Indian tech consultancy giant is estimated to be worth more than £400m, according to the most recent annual report.

Ms Murthy’s father, Narayana Murthy, co-founded Infosys in 1981 and helped build it into a multi-national company that currently has more than 250,000 employees in offices around the world, including Russia, India, the US, China, the Middle East and Europe.

Mr Murthy, 75, was listed among the “12 greatest entrepreneurs of our time” by Fortune magazine – alongside Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburg – in 2012 before he stepped down from the board to become chairman emeritus.

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Sunak denies links with firm his wife has stake in

Mr Sunak has faced multiple questions over Infosys’ links to Russia after urging firms to cut ties with the country in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. He has refused to answer them, saying it has nothing to do with him.

On Friday morning, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer urged Mr Sunak to “come clean” over his wife’s stake in Infosys and said he agreed family “shouldn’t be brought into political arguments” but it was a “fundamental question of principle” to find out if his household is benefiting from Infosys investing in Russia.

Earlier this week, Mr Sunak refused to answer questions about the company’s links with Russia, including with the country’s largest private bank, Alfa Bank, which was sanctioned by the UK last week.

Asked if he was giving advice to others that his own family is not following, Mr Sunak told Sky News: “I’m an elected politician and I’m here to talk to you about what I’m responsible for. My wife is not.”

The Prince of Wales speaks to Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murthy as they attend a reception to celebrate the British Asian Trust at the British Museum, in London. Picture date: Wednesday February 9, 2022.

Ms Murthy speaking to Prince Charles in February

After it was pointed out that his family could be benefiting from Vladimir Putin’s regime, the chancellor said: “I really don’t think that’s the case.

“The operations of all companies are up to them. We’ve put in place significant sanctions and all the companies we’re responsible for are following those, as they rightly should, sending a very strong message to Putin’s aggression.”

He added: “I have nothing to do with that company.”

Reacting to Infosys pulling out of Russia, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “Whether this is a belated recognition of his hypocrisy or another exercise in brand management, it shows the chancellor will act to protect his own reputation, but still sits on his hands when it comes to supporting the British public.

“Millions of people are waking today to face unprecedented energy bills, against the backdrop of the Conservative’s cost of living crisis, but the chancellor is too busy having to get his own affairs in order.”

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What’s happening in Ukraine?

Infosys told Sky News last week it had a “small team of employees based out of Russia, that services some of our global clients, locally”.

“We do not have any active business relationships with local Russian enterprises,” it added in the statement.

“A key priority for Infosys in times of adversity is to continue extending support to the community. The company has committed $1m towards relief efforts for the victims of war from Ukraine.”

News that the company was pulling out of Russia came the day after Mr Sunak told the BBC he had found criticism of his wife “very upsetting” and he understood how film star Will Smith felt when his wife was mocked by comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars over her alopecia condition.

“At least I didn’t get up and slap anybody, which is good,” he joked.

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