UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak is being investigated by Parliament in relation to his wife's shareholding in a childcare company that may benefit from the new government policy. Parliament's Commissioner for Standards started the investigation into the “declaration of interest” on April 13th, according to an official list of open inquiries.
The investigation was launched after media reports questioned whether Sunak had properly declared his wife's stake in the childcare company, which stood to benefit from support for the sector announced in the March budget.
A spokesperson for Sunak confirmed that the investigation was linked to the childcare firm and stated, We are happy to assist the commissioner to clarify how this has been transparently declared as a ministerial interest.
Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murthy are the richest couple ever to occupy 10 Downing Street. Murthy is the daughter of one of the founders of Indian IT giant Infosys and owns around 0.9% of the company, worth nearly US $600 million.
While Sunak was the Finance Minister, there was public outrage and criticism regarding Murthy's non-domiciled tax status, which meant she did not pay tax in the UK on her earnings from abroad. She subsequently gave up the status and agreed to pay British tax on her global income.
Under the code of conduct, members of parliament must disclose information about financial interests that may be reasonably thought to affect their work in parliament. If the investigation finds a breach, the Commissioner can demand that Sunak apologizes and outlines steps to prevent future errors. Alternatively, the Commissioner may refer Sunak to a committee with the power to suspend or expel him from parliament.
Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party, has called on Sunak to publish an updated register of ministerial interests before the municipal elections next month. She said the failure to do so had left a transparency black hole which is enabling the prime minister and those he has appointed to dodge proper scrutiny of their affairs.
The investigation is an embarrassment for Sunak, who promised to lead a government with integrity at every level when he took office in October 2021. Sunak has not commented on the investigation, and it is unclear how long the investigation will take,