UK Labour Party calls on Sunak to explain offshore trusts claim

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LONDON, April 9 (Reuters) – Britain’s opposition Labour Party called on finance minister Rishi Sunak on Saturday to respond to claims in a newspaper report that he was listed as a beneficiary of offshore trusts linked to his wife’s family business interests.

The Independent said trusts in the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands were created to help manage the tax and business affairs of Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty, whose father is an Indian billionaire, and some of them noted Sunak as a beneficiary in 2020.

A spokesperson for Sunak said no one in the families of Murty or Sunak was aware of the alleged trusts.

The Independent cited people familiar with Murty’s financial affairs and documents for its report. It said there was no suggestion of legal wrongdoing.

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (L) and his wife Akshata Murthy (R). EPA-EFE/VICKIE FLORES

The Labour Party called on Sunak to explain the situation.

“We need full disclosure now,” Labour’s chief finance spokesperson Rachel Reeves said on Twitter.

Sunak won plaudits for hugely increasing public spending in response to the coronavirus crisis two years ago but his chances of one day succeeding Boris Johnson as prime minister have been dented recently.

Last month he was criticised for doing too little to ease a cost of living squeeze caused by a jump in inflation.

This week, questions were raised about his wife’s tax arrangements, something Sunak said on Friday were politically motivated attempts to damage him. Hours later Murty said she would start paying British tax on her foreign income.

Critics have said her use of Britain’s “non-domiciled” status, while legal, was incompatible with her husband’s decision to raise taxes on workers and employers.

Murty is the daughter one of the founders of Indian IT giant Infosys INFY.NS and owns about 0.9% of the company — entitling her to a dividend payment worth 11.6 million pounds ($15.12 million) last year.

($1 = 0.7674 pounds)

(Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Christina Fincher)

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