Wedding Finance

The wife and in-laws of UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak

As the daughter of a self-made tech millionaire and a no less formidable engineer and philanthropist mother, Akshata Murty, the Indian wife of embattled British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, is richer than the Queen.

Sunak, once seen as a future prime minister, has seen his popularity plummet due to soaring consumer prices, while recent reports that Murty’s overseas earnings are shielded from UK tax authorities have added to the pressure.

His father, NR Narayana Murthy, 75, co-founded tech giant Infosys in 1981, the outsourcing giant that helped India’s remarkable transformation into the “back office of the world”.

The company is currently valued at around $100 billion and was the first Indian company to list on Wall Street, thanks to a loan of 10,000 rupees ($130) from his wife Sudha.

The Infosys CEO’s life-changing incident occurred in 1974, when he was imprisoned for four nights in communist Eastern Europe. He was one of only two non-Americans to be listed on Fortune magazine’s 2012 list of “The 12 Greatest Entrepreneurs of Our Time.”

“It healed me from being a confused leftist to a determined, compassionate capitalist,” said Narayana, who is now worth more than $4 billion.

She also gave her children Akshata and Rohan an austere upbringing, refusing to allow them to watch television at home and insisting that they travel to school by auto-rickshaw like their classmates.

Unusually in class-conscious India, where arranged marriages are still common, Akshata’s parents were happy with her modest choice of husband, the son of a family doctor from Southampton, England.

She also gave her children Akshata and Rohan an austere upbringing, refusing to allow them to watch television at home and insisting that they travel to school by auto-rickshaw like their classmates.

Unusually in class-conscious India, where arranged marriages are still common, Akshata’s parents were happy with her modest choice of husband, the son of a family doctor from Southampton, England.

In a letter to Akshata published in an anthology, his father said he found Sunak “to be everything you described him to be – brilliant, handsome and, above all, honest”.

“I understood why you let your heart be stolen. That’s when I reconciled to share your affections with him,” he wrote.

The couple met at Stanford University in the United States while Akshata was pursuing his MBA. The future Chancellor of the Exchequer was a Fulbright scholar already holding a first-class Oxford degree.

Their 2009 wedding was a relatively modest affair, but the reception was attended by around 1,000 guests, including politicians, industrialists and cricketers.

Akshata, 42, owns shares worth nearly $1 billion in Infosys, according to the company’s disclosure to the stock exchange.

According to The Sunday Times 2021 Rich List, she is now richer than Queen Elizabeth II, who has a personal fortune of around £350 million ($460 million).

At least four homes belong to the couple, including a £7million five-bedroom property in upscale Kensington, London, and a condo in Santa Monica, California.

Akshata is also a director of venture capital firm Catamaran Ventures which she founded with Sunak in 2013.

She confirmed this week that she “is treated as not domiciled for tax purposes in the UK”, meaning that returns from her stake in Infosys are only taxable outside Britain.

Sunak told the Sun newspaper for Friday’s edition that “smearing my wife to attack me is awful”.

He said “it would not be reasonable or fair to ask her to sever ties with her country because she happens to be married to me”.

Akshata established her own fashion label, Akshata Designs, in 2010.

According to a 2011 Vogue profile, she works with artists in remote villages to create Indian-Western fusion clothing that is “vehicles for experiencing Indian culture”.

“I believe we live in a materialistic society,” she told the magazine. “People are becoming more aware of the world they live in. Doing good is in fashion.”