UK PM Rishi Sunak’s Wife Akshata Murty To Shut Down Her Controversial Startup Fund
Months after questions were raised about its links to taxpayer-funded schemes, UK Prime Minister?Rishi Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murty, is shutting down her startup investment fund.
What Does Akshata Murty's Startup Fund Do?
Akshata Murty’s?venture capital fund, Catamaran Ventures UK, claims to manage over $1 billion across asset classes. playing the role of a catalyst for creating innovative enterprises in India. Earlier this year, a Financial Express report mentioned that?Infosys’ Narayana Murthy will double Catamaran’s $1 billion investments into $2 billion in the next five years. In August 2021, Catamaran Ventures agreed to sell its stake in a joint venture with Amazon India.
Catamaran Ventures LLP was set up by Infosys. The firm has been said to be shifting its focus from services to strategic partnerships in deep tech, precision engineering and manufacturing, and renewables, Bloomberg reported earlier this year.
The UK PM's wife Akshata?had reportedly used Catamaran Ventures UK to invest some of the vast wealth she derives from her 0.91% stake in her father’s Indian IT business,?Infosys, which earlier this year was worth ?590 million, as per The Guardian report.
Why Is The Startup Fund Shutting Down?
The startup fund gave little detail, only saying that its?directors “have decided to liquidate the company”,?according to its latest filings at Companies House. However, the fund’s operations came under scrutiny when it emerged that a number of the startups it backed received cash injections through taxpayer-backed schemes or owed money to HM Revenue and Customs.
That included the upmarket furniture firm, New Craftsmen, which collapsed into liquidation in November 2022 after receiving ?300,000 in?taxpayer-funded loans?handed out under policies that Sunak put in place while he was chancellor.
Catamaran also backed the education firm Mrs. Wordsmith, which secured ?1.3 million from the Future Fund, a ?250 million investment scheme designed by Sunak that was intended to help small startups ride out the pandemic. Under the scheme, the government extended loans that would then be converted into shares when the companies attracted new funding. Mrs. Wordsmith collapsed six months after receiving the funding, owing ?249,000 to HMRC.
Another of its investments, the fitness chain Digme Fitness, fell into administration in 2021 after receiving Covid?furlough payments of up to ?630,000. It also?owed more than ?6.1 million in VAT and PAYE taxes, as per the report.
Catamaran also put money behind Study Hall, an education technology business that is still trading and was given a government grant of ?349,976 from the arm’s-length body Innovate UK in 2022.
Which Tax Controversies Have Surrounded The Fund?
Akshata Murty’s financial arrangements have been an ongoing point of contention during Rishi Sunak’s time in Downing Street.?The UK prime minister came under criticism after it was revealed that Murty held “non-dom” tax status, allowing her to legally minimise tax on dividends from Infosys, which were worth ?11.5m in the last financial year. She subsequently agreed to pay tax in the UK on her worldwide income.
As per the report, her shareholding in the childcare company Koru Kids later became a source of controversy after the prime minister was found to have breached parliament’s code of conduct by failing to declare it while being questioned by MPs earlier this year. Koru Kids was among six private childcare providers poised to benefit from a pilot scheme proposed in the budget to incentivize people to become childminders. However, parliament’s commissioner for standards said the breach was inadvertent.??
For the latest and more interesting financial news, keep reading Indiatimes Worth.?Click here