Rishi Sunak reported to watchdog over investments ‘he failed to declare as MP’

The Liberal Democrats have reported Rishi Sunak to a parliamentary watchdog over investments they say he failed to declare before entering cabinet.

Mr Sunak reported after becoming chief secretary to the Treasury in 2019 that he had investments in a blind trust – a set-up in which details of assets are kept from their owner, commonly to avoid conflicts of interest.

But the Liberal Democrats pointed out that he had not declared these investments under the MPs’ register of financial interests during the previous four years in parliament, including his time as a housing minister from 2018 to 2019.

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The party has now written to Kathryn Stone, the standards commissioner, asking for an “urgent investigation” into whether he broke rules stating that MPs must declare any relevant financial interest that “might reasonably thought by others to influence his or her actions or words as a member”.

The move will add pressure to the chancellor, who is facing calls to resign after he was fined by the Met Police over rule-breaking parties in lockdown.

The Lib Dems have also called for the chancellor to be transparent about the blind trust by revealing how much money it contains, how much income he receives from it, how much tax he pays on that income and what arrangements are in place to ensure it is “blind”.

Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “Sunak’s continual failure to declare the details of his investments is a kick in the teeth to the millions of people who are paying the price for his unfair tax rises – now, these new revelations suggest he’s broken the rules of the House of Commons.

“The British public deserve to know whether, when he was a backbench MP, Sunak’s substantial investments influenced his actions in Parliament in any way.

“But, because he didn’t declare his interests back then, we have no idea whether they did. That’s why we need an urgent investigation into whether he broke the rules.”

It comes as Mr Sunak already faces pressure over the revelation that Akshata Murty, his Indian-born multimillionaire wife, held “non-dom” status, allowing her to avoid paying UK tax on worldwide income.

The chancellor, who previously lived and worked in the United States, has also faced scrutiny over his green card status, disclosing last week that he held the US permanent residency document until last autumn, a year and a half after moving into Number 11.

Labour has accused him of hypocrisy over his household financial affairs at a time when the government has been hiking taxes for millions of workers.

Twitter picture taken from  https://twitter.com/anmurty
Akshata Murthy and Rishi Sunak

It emerged that the chancellor’s wife Akshata Murty had non-dom status Pic: Twitter

Tory backbench MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown has told Sky News the situation “doesn’t look very good”.

If started, an investigation by the standards commissioner would be the third Whitehall inquiry to be launched since Mr Sunak’s private arrangements began to become the focus of major political interest last week.

Civil servants are already conducting an inquiry into who leaked details of Ms Murty’s tax affairs.

Boris Johnson has asked the independent adviser on ministers’ interests, Lord Geidt, to investigate Mr Sunak’s financial affairs – at the chancellor’s request.

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The chancellor has asked Lord Geidt to determine whether all his interests were “properly declared”, though he has maintained that he “always followed the rules” and said he hopes that the review will provide “further clarity”.

Mr Sunak has bristled at questions over his wife’s financial affairs, describing them as “smears”.

Ms Murty has now said she will pay UK tax on all her worldwide earnings.

Armed forces minister James Heappey told Sky’s Kay Burley on Monday that there was “a sort of unease… that in 2022 that is still something that she felt compelled to do to support her husband, but she never did anything wrong by being non-dom.

“She is an Indian national, and she pays her taxes elsewhere. She’s changed that out of loyalty to Rishi. I think that’s very admirable.”