Rishi Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murthyinvested in a furniture company which received nearly £300,000 in taxpayer-funded loans provided under policies he put in place while chancellor.
The New Craftsmen, whose high-end range included a £7,340 mirror and a £2,220 table lamp, collapsed into liquidation in November 2022, according to documents filed by Companies House.
The brand was sold later that month to Sally Myerscough, gallerist and former company employee.
Unsecured creditors – those who are not guaranteed to receive what is owed to them if a business fails – include employees who owed £75,437 and commercial and consumer creditors who owed more than £412,000.
Taxpayers also appear to have lost in two ways, the filings suggest.
Lloyds Bank had lent £37,500 to The New Craftsmen under the Covid rebound loan scheme introduced by Sunak in April 2020. The bank is among the unsecured creditors, whose claims exceed the company’s assets by 535 £863.
The government also held 450,000 shares of the company through the Future Fund. The £250million investment scheme, designed by Sunak, was intended to help small startups weather the pandemic.
Under this program, the government provided loans that would then be converted into equity when companies attracted new financing.
A source close to the loan said the government loaned The New Craftsmen £250,000, a sum which was matched by private investors. The loan was converted into shares, Company House fills suggest, the value of which was wiped out.
Besides the government, the company’s shareholder register included several well-known wealthy investors, with the largest stake held by Prudence MacLeod, Rupert Murdoch’s eldest child.
Murty is also losing via the 218,785 shares she held in the company through Catamaran Ventures UK, a vehicle that invests the immense wealth she derives from a 0.91% stake in her Indian IT firm. father, Infosys.
It emerged last year that Murty had “non-dom” tax status, allowing it to legally minimize tax on Infosys dividends, which were worth £11.5 million in the last financial year. She later renounced her non-dom status.
Based on Infosys’ latest share price, the stake makes the Prime Minister’s wife worth at least £590m.
Murty invested some of that wealth through Catamaran Ventures, with mixed results. On several occasions she bought stakes in companies which then collapsed after receiving support from taxpayers or with unpaid debts to HM Revenue and Customs.
Catamaran held shares in educational publisher Mrs Wordsmith Limited, which collapsed into administration in March 2021 owing £16.3m, although it did get £1.3m from the FutureFund. Administrators said that despite furloughed staff, the company had been unable to ‘withstand the pressure’ from creditors, including HMRC. Companies House filings showed she owed £249,000 to HMRC.
Murty also personally owned shares in Lava Mayfair Club, a private gym which caved under the weight of Covid restrictions in 2021, with debts to HMRC of £374,000.
Another Catamaran investment, fitness chain Digme Fitness, fell into administration in 2021, owing more than £6.1million in VAT and PAYE taxes, after receiving furlough payments of up to £630,000.
Some of the investment vehicle’s bets performed better. He has a stake in florist Bloom & Wild, as well as New & Lingwood, a tailor who dresses Eton schoolchildren and sells a “psychedelic” silk tuxedo hat for £125.
Catamaran also owns shares in Dara5, a London-based investment firm co-founded in 2019 by a member of Qatar’s ruling Al-Thani family, and has previously invested in fetal monitoring firm Monica Healthcare and Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging. , which makes MRI scanners. for animals including horses.
Murty still owns shares, in his own name, in a catering company that used a letterbox company in the tax haven of Mauritius, in a structure that could allow its backers to avoid taxes in India. The company, International market management (IMM), hoped to build a chain of dozens of restaurants across India, via franchise deals with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and American fast-food brand Wendy’s.
At the time, IMM managing director Jasper Reid, who manages the business from New Delhi, said: “This is a standard approach for companies investing in India and is nothing special. ‘extraordinary.”
A former spokesperson for Murty sent requests to No 10, which did not return a request for comment.