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Labour claims questions remain as company owned by Sunak’s wife is closed

Senior Labour figure Pat McFadden raised questions about Catamaran Ventures UK, the investment company owned by Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty.

David Lynch
Thursday 04 January 2024 15:20 GMT
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

Questions remain about a company owned by the Prime Minister’s wife which is now being wound up, Labour has said.

Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign co-ordinator, has written to the Government amid reports that Akshata Murty’s investment company Catamaran Ventures UK will be liquidated.

Ms Murty’s company made headlines in May last year, when it was revealed by the Sunday Times that it held shares in Study Hall, an education start-up which had received almost £350,000 of UK grant money.

Senior Labour frontbencher Mr McFadden drew attention to a notice on the London Gazette, the official public record, published on December 28, announcing that Catamaran Ventures UK was to be wound up.

Newspaper reports back in September had suggested the process was being undertaken.

Mr McFadden has now written to Oliver Dowden, the Deputy Prime Minister, urging him to ensure that Rishi Sunak and his wife’s interests continue to be properly declared in the Register of Ministerial Interests amid the company’s closure.

He asked what the impact of Catamaran’s winding up would be on Study Hall and “any other companies in which Catamaran retains a stake”, as well as whether the company would be “fulfilling all its liabilities to the British taxpayer” by arranging to pay any outstanding taxes.

Mr McFadden also referenced the Prime Minister’s most recent appearance at the Commons Liaison Committee, during which he was grilled by a series of senior MPs in December.

At the time, Mr Sunak told the committee’s Tory chair Sir Bernard Jenkin he would write to the group of MPs if he had failed to mention any interests which he later decided were relevant to their questions.

The Prime Minister previously faced a standards probe after concerns he did not declare Ms Murty’s financial interest in Koru Kids, a childcare agency that benefited from a Budget policy providing incentive payments for childminders entering the profession.

Regarding the latest Liaison Committee session, Mr McFadden asked: “Will this include any interests beyond Catamaran Ventures and cover responsibilities relating to the Prime Minister’s position both as a Minister and as an MP?”

He added: “It is vital that these questions are answered in the interests of, to quote the Prime Minister himself, ‘integrity, professionalism and accountability’.”

The Prime Minister’s family finances previously faced scrutiny while he was chancellor when the “non-dom” status of his wife was revealed.

Ms Murty declared she would pay UK taxes on all her worldwide income following the controversy.

Mr McFadden rejected the suggestion the party was trying to create “political capital” out of the issue.

“This is a company that invested in a lot of other companies that were very fortunate in getting help from the taxpayer.

“And some of them have subsequently gone bust.

“And the fund that they were funded from has ended up investing in a number of companies that have gone bust and we just want to make sure that everything is properly declared here, as this venture now winds up,” he told Sky News.

A spokesperson for Ms Murty said: “The CVUK (Catamaran Ventures UK) business was wound up by Ms Murty on December 21 2023.

“As a result, a significant donation has been made to ShareGift, an independent UK-registered charity with experience accepting donations in the form of shares.

“Ms Murty has shortlisted several charities focused on veterans’ affairs and education for the ShareGift team to consider at the time of disbursement.”

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