Rishi Sunak cleared by PM’s standards adviser on his wife’s tax status

Rishi Sunak has been cleared of breaching the Ministerial Code by Boris Johnson’s standards adviser after reviewing the Chancellor and his family’s tax affairs.

Ministerial adviser on interests, Lord Geidt, also ruled in favor of Mr Sunak on alleged conflicts of interest relating to the chancellor having held a US permanent resident card.

Mr Sunak referred himself for investigation after it emerged his wife, Akshata Murty, had non-domiciled tax status, exempting her from paying UK tax on overseas income.

Lord Geidt noted two instances where Ms Murty’s tax status “could have given rise to a conflict of interest” for the Chancellor.

But he found that in the first case the issue had been correctly stated and in the second Mr Sunak assured that a change in cash for some non-dominating people did not affect his wife.

In his advice to the Prime Minister, Lord Geidt wrote: “I report that the requirements of the Ministerial Code have been met by the Chancellor, and that he has been diligent in fulfilling his obligations and engaging in this investigation.

“To reach these judgments, I limit myself to the question of conflicts of interest and the requirements of the ministerial code.

“My role does not touch on any broader question about the merits of such interests or arrangements.”

The adviser said he did not believe Mr Sunak holding a US green card “would constitute an inherent conflict of interest”.

Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty (Ian West/PA)

(PA wire)

Lord Geidt said he had asked the Treasury to research any policies that affected cardholders and Mr Sunak’s department responded with ‘no such evidence’.

He was also confident there was no conflict of interest over Mr Sunak’s blind investment trust after the Chancellor assured he had no ‘live knowledge’ of the contents.

Lord Geidt was also satisfied that Ms Murty’s stake in Infosys, an Indian IT company founded by her father, was “correctly declared” and that she held no Treasury contracts during her husband’s tenure.

Public records show Infosys has received more than £50m in UK public sector contracts since 2015.

Earlier this month, the Prime Minister agreed to launch the investigation amid intense pressure on Mr Sunak over his family’s financial interests.

There had been speculation in Westminster that an official sympathetic to Labor or No 10 rivals might have been behind the leak of the confidential information.

On Wednesday, Mr Sunak insisted he did not believe allies of Mr Johnson were behind the leaks as he fielded questions from users of the Mumsnet internet forum.

He was asked how he could have ‘the understanding and empathy for what it’s like to struggle’ by someone who said he ‘can’t imagine what it’s like to live a life in a very privileged financial situation”.

Mr Sunak said he hoped people ‘could judge me on my actions’ as he acknowledged he was in a ‘privileged position’ but highlighted his family history of emigrating to the UK ‘very little”.

During the political storm, Ms Murty, who is an Indian citizen and is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds, agreed to pay UK tax on all her worldwide earnings.

She reportedly owns a 0.91% stake in Infosys and received £11.6 million in dividends from the Indian company over the past year.

Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader of the Labor Party, said: ‘It was clear from the outset that this report would be a total whitewash – the Government announced the outcome of this inquiry before it even started.

“This report fails to answer the most basic questions and makes a mockery of our democracy. Downing Street has lost all ethical credibility.

“We now know that the Government was fully aware of the Chancellor’s tax avoidance tactics, but failed to inform the public or take action.”

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