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Rishi Sunak, Akshata Murty Feature in UK Rich List With Combined £730 Mn Fortune

The list has been topped by the Indian-origin Hinduja brothers with an estimated £28.4 billion.

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South Asians
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Edited By :Padmashree Pande

Days after warning consumers on rising cost of living crisis, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak became the first frontline politician to be listed alongside UK's wealthiest.

A British-born former hedge fund manager, Sunak and his Infosys heiress wife, Akshata Murty, featured as the 222nd wealthiest people in the UK on the Sunday Times rich list, with a combined fortune of £730 million.

"Not so long ago Sunak, 42, was touted as a future prime minister, a smooth heir to the bumbling Boris Johnson. However, the chancellor’s ambitions have been derailed by last month’s revelation that his wife, Akshata Murty, was a “non-dom” — a status that allows those who have their permanent home (domicile) outside the UK to pay tax only on earnings in this country, as well as an annual charge of £30,000," read The Sunday Times Rich List report.

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The Non-Dom Controversy 

This comes after news of Murthy's non-domicile status claim, which legally allowed her to not pay tax on the annual dividends from her £690 stake in Infosys, an Indian IT giant founded by her father, Narayana Murthy.

The initial days of April saw Murthy reveal her possession of a non-domiciled status in the United Kingdom, paying £30,000 a year to maintain that status, which allows her to avoid paying up to £20 million in tax to the British government.

If a UK resident attains a non-dom status with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) department, it means that they do not consider the UK to be their permanent home, and can therefore avoid paying regular taxes to the British government on foreign earnings.

"It should have delivered about £54 million in dividends over the past seven and a half years – including £11 million in 2021. Without the non-dom status Murthy would have been liable for £20.6 million of UK tax on these payments. She has now agreed to pay tax on her 2021 dividends," the Rich List report adds.

The news severely damaged Sunak's political credibility as tax hikes announced by him several months prior to this took effect on the same day.

The Labour opposition complained of Sunak’s “blatant hypocrisy” in levying higher taxes on ordinary people who can’t afford them while his wealthy wife appeared to be taking advantage of what many see as a tax dodge, however legal it might be.

While Sunak and Murty had earlier claimed that she was a victim of a smear campaign, the couple U-turned and vowed that she would pay British taxes on all her global income, PTI reported.

Last month, Murty announced her intention to pay taxes on her entire income in the UK, including that from India, to avoid the controversy becoming a "distraction" for her Chancellor husband.

A few days after the announcement, Sunak launched a Whitehall leak enquiry to find who leaked the details.

Sunak, for one, rigorously defended his wife, submitting himself to an independent ministerial ethics advisor to the UK government, and has since been issued a clean chit.

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Who Else Made the List? 

Sri and Gopichand Hinduja, behind the multinational conglomerate the Hinduja Group, returned to the top of the list after falling to third place last year, recording the largest fortune of £28.5 billion in The Sunday Times Rich List's history.

The Rich List report noted: "All may not be harmonious within the Hinduja dynasty, but their business empire has enjoyed a bumper year," referring to an alleged family feud.

Another set of Indian-born siblings, businessmen David and Simon Reuben and family sit in third place with an estimated fortune of £22.3 billion, following British inventor-entrepreneur Sir James Dyson and his family, ranked in second with an estimate of £23 billion.

Meanwhile, steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal listed further down in sixth place, adding almost £2.3 billion to his fortune through ArcelorMittal steelworks, since 2021.

Anil Agarwal in 16th place with an estimated £9.2 billion, EuroGarage founders Mohsin and Zuber Issa in 39th place with an estimated £4.73 billion, Prakash Lohia at 41st place with almost £4.4 billion and Simon, Bobby and Robin Arora clocking in at 69th with £2.5 billion are a few of several Indian-origin members of the Sunday Times Rich List.

The UK has a record 177 billionaires, six more than 2021, with a combined fortune of £653 billion - up more than £55 billion compared to last year. They represent 9.4 percent of the Sunday Times Rich List.

The list measures metrics such as land, property, racehorses, art and significant shares in publicly traded companies under the banner of identifiable wealth. However, the newspaper does not have access to bank accounts and private equity portfolios are excluded.

(With inputs from The Sunday Times)

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Topics:  Rishi Sunak   Akshata Murthy 

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