PM's wife had shares in bust firm that 'got £300k in taxpayer loans'

Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty held shares in collapsed luxury furniture retailer that ‘received nearly £300k in taxpayer-funded loans’ through schemes set up by her PM husband

  • Akshata Murty held shares in The New Craftsmen through Catamaran Ventures
  • The luxury furniture retailer went into liquidation in November last year 

Akshata Murty held shares in a collapsed firm that received nearly £300,000 in taxpayer-funded loans under schemes set up by her husband Rishi Sunak, it has been revealed.

The Prime Minister’s wife had a stake in The New Craftsmen, a luxury furniture retailer, which went into liquidation in November last year.

Her 218,785 shares were held through Catamaran Ventures UK, the company she and Mr Sunak set up in 2013.

As well as Ms Murty losing out through the firm’s collapse, taxpayers also lost out after The New Craftsmen received money from Covid support schemes set up by Mr Sunak when he was Chancellor.

Akshata Murty’s 218,785 shares in The New Craftsmen were held through Catamaran Ventures UK, the company she and Rishi Sunak set up in 2013

The PM set up a series of support schemes to help businesses through the Covid pandemic while he was Chancellor 

Who is Akshata Murty? 

The Prime Minister’s wife is the daughter of billionaire Indian IT mogul, Narayana Murthy.

Akshata, 42, married Rishi Sunak in 2009 at a lavish ceremony in Bengaluru, India.

The couple had met while both studying at Stanford University in California.

During their early years together, Akshata pursued a career in fashion and set up her own business in 2007, Akshata Designs.

Her wealth comes predominantly from the 0.93 per cent stake she holds in her father’s firm, Infosys.

She and Mr Sunak also set up their own investment firm called Catamaran Ventures.

When he became PM in October, Mr Sunak and his wife decided to move themselves – as well as their two daughters, Krishna, 11, and Anoushka, nine – into the flat above No10 where they had previously lived when he was Chancellor.

This is different from previous PMs who, in recent times, have usually lived in the larger flat above No11.

Explaining their choice of residence, the PM’s press secretary said the family were ‘very happy there’ during Mr Sunak’s time as Treasury chief.

The PM’s wife has become an increasingly prominent presence during Mr Sunak’s political career.

In April last year, she was forced to admit she held non-dom tax status in the UK in a row that threatened to derail her husband’s ambitions.

But the couple survived the fierce scrutiny over their financial affairs and Ms Murty is now taking on a ‘First Lady’ role as the PM’s wife.

As well as a five-bedroom Kensington mews house worth an estimated £7million, Ms Murty and Mr Sunak also own another west London flat, a £2million manor house in Mr Sunak’s Yorkshire constituency, and a £5.5million penthouse in Santa Monica, California.

According to the Guardian, Lloyds Bank lent The New Craftsmen £37,500 under the Covid bounce-back loan scheme introduced by Mr Sunak in April 2020.

Companies House records also show the Government-backed British Business Bank’s Future Fund held more than 450,000 shares in The New Craftsmen before its collapse.

The Future Fund was a scheme that allowed loans given to businesses that struggled due to Covid restrictions to be converted into shares.

It has seen the Government end up with stakes in a range of businesses, including Bolton Wanderers football club, a sex party company, a luxury villa rental firm, and a south London brewery.

It is reported that the Government lent the New Craftsmen £250,000 – a sum that was matched by private investors – before the loan was converted into now worthless equity.

Since the firm fell into liquidation, The New Craftsmen brand has been sold on to gallery owner Sarah Myerscough.

Its website advertises mirrors at a price of £7,340 and table lamps at a price of £1,200.

Ms Murty’s 218,785 shares in The New Craftsmen were held through Catamaran Ventures UK, the company she and Mr Sunak set up in 2013. 

Mr Sunak relinquished his share in Catamaran Ventures prior to becoming an MP in 2015.

It has previously been reported how Ms Murty owned a stake in Digme Fitness, a boutique London fitness chain that collapsed owing £415,000 in unpaid taxes.

The firm had received £310,000 and £635,000 in furlough cash between December 2020 and September 2021.

Ms Murty’s wealth comes predominantly from the 0.93 per cent stake she holds in Infosys, the IT firm her Indian billionaire father founded. 

Around 12 million people were supported through the furlough scheme introduced by Mr Sunak at the start of the Covid pandemic, while more than 1.5 million businesses received a bounce back loan.

It has been estimated that more than half a million of those businesses would not have survived without Government support.

A spokesman for Ms Murty said: ‘Ms Murty invests in start-ups, small businesses and entrepreneurs.

‘Her small investment in The New Craftsmen in 2014 was based on her desire to support the British craft industry.

‘More than 1.5 million businesses qualified for a Bounce Back Loan during the pandemic.’

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