Indian IT giant Infosys explains Russia presence after Rishi Sunak questions

UK Chancellor’s wife has $1bn stake in her family firm

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murthy have faced criticism over her family firm's ties with Russia. Tristan Fewings / AFP

India's Infosys has played down its business ties in Russia after British chancellor Rishi Sunak came under fire over his wife's $1m stake in the firm.

Infosys, which has a market value of $100 billion, was co-founded by Mr Sunak's father-in-law Narayana Murthy.

His daughter, Akshata Murthy, Mr Sunak's wife, owns a stake worth around $1 billion in the IT firm.

With Britain and others seeking to isolate Russia economically over its invasion of Ukraine, Mr Sunak has faced questioning about the firm.

In a statement, Infosys said it had committed $1 million towards relief efforts for victims of the war.

"Infosys has a small team of employees based out of Russia, that services some of our global clients, locally," it said.

"We do not have any active business relationships with local Russian enterprises."

During an interview with Sky News, Mr Sunak said he had no knowledge of whether the firm was reducing its presence in Russia.

"I have absolutely no idea because I have nothing to do with that company," he said.

"I am an elected politician and I'm here to talk to you about what I am responsible for, my wife is not."

New Delhi and Moscow have had close ties since the Cold War, with the Indian military still heavily dependent on Russian equipment.

India has stopped short of condemning Russia's invasion, abstaining several times in votes at the United Nations and has continued to buy Russian oil.

President Vladimir Putin has been a regular visitor to India, most recently in December, in a rare overseas trip when he called India "a great power, a friendly nation and a time-tested friend".

Mr Putin also visited the corporate headquarters of Infosys in Bangalore in 2004 and was welcomed by co-founder Mr Murthy, who has since retired.

Earlier this week, British politicians said UK sanctions against Russia could have a “catastrophic and long-lasting” effect on the country, but they will come at a cost and the poorest households will be hit hardest.

A report by the treasury select committee said the UK was not protected against the economic impact of sanctions against Russian oil and gas, and that soaring prices will intensify the crisis in the cost of living for the whole country.

Low-income households will suffer the most from surging fuel and energy bills caused by the sanctions, and further punitive measures will inflict yet more pain, it found.

Mr Sunak has slashed fuel duty and boosted financial support for poorer households in response, as he pledged to stand by the British public during the cost-of-living crisis by delivering a £6-billion tax cut for workers.

While the measures will help ease the strain on households, Mr Sunak said Britain's economy will grow more slowly this year than previously predicted and inflation will be much higher.

Updated: March 25, 2022, 2:14 PM
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