Akshata Murty held shares in collapsed firm with nearly £300k taxpayer loan ‘Sunak’

Rishi Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murty, invested in a furniture firm that received almost £300,000 in taxpayer-funded loans brought out under policies he implemented as chancellor.

The New Craftsmen, which included a £7,340 mirror and a £2,220 table lamp, fell into liquidation in November 2022, according to Companies House filings.

The brand was sold later that month to Sally Myerscough, a gallery owner and former company employee.

The unsecured creditors – those who are not guaranteed to receive what they are owed when a company fails – include employees who were owed £75,437, and trade and consumer creditors who were owed more than £412,000.

Taxpayers also appear to have lost out in two ways, the filings indicate.

Lloyds Bank lent £37,500 to the New Craftsmen under the Covid bounce back loan scheme introduced by Sunak in April 2020. The bank is listed among the unsecured creditors, whose claims exceed £ 535,863 on the assets of the business.

The government also held 450,000 shares in the company through the Future Fund. The £250m investment scheme, designed by Sunak, was intended to help small start-ups weather the pandemic.

Under the scheme, the government extended loans that would then turn into shares when the companies attracted new funding.

A source familiar with the loan said the government lent £250,000 to the New Craftsmen, a sum matched by private investors. The loan was changed to equity, according to the Company House filing, whose value has been wiped out.

As well as the government, the company’s shareholder register included a number of wealthy and well-known investors, with the largest single stake held by Prudence MacLeod, the eldest child of Rupert Murdoch.

Murty also loses out on the 218,785 shares she held in the business through Catamaran Ventures UK, a vehicle that invests the vast wealth she derives from a 0.91% stake in her father’s Indian IT business, Infosys.

Watch: PM Rishi Sunak building a tower with a toddler during a visit to the family hub with his wife

It emerged last year that Murty had “non-family” tax status, which allowed her to legally minimize tax on dividends from Infosys, which were worth £11.5m in the last financial year. She later resigned herself to her non-dom status.

Based on Infosys’ latest share price, the prime minister’s wife is worth at least £590m.

Murty has invested some of that wealth through Catamaran Ventures, with mixed results. She often bought stakes in businesses that had collapsed after receiving taxpayer support, or had outstanding debts to HMRC.

Catamaran held shares in educational publisher Mrs Wordsmith Limited, which fell into administration in March 2021 owing £16.3m, despite receiving £1.3m from the Future Fund. Administrators said that despite the staff being on ffyrlo, the company was unable to “resist the pressure” from creditors, including HMRC. Companies House filings showed he owed £249,000 to HMRC.

Murty also personally owned shares in Lava Mayfair Club, a private members’ gym which came under the weight of Covid restrictions in 2021, with a £374,000 debt to HMRC.

Another investment from Catamaran, fitness chain Digme Fitness, went into administration in 2021, owing more than £6.1m in VAT and PAYE taxes, after receiving payouts of up to £630,000.

Some of the investment vehicle bets have better performance. He is associated with florist Bloom & Wild, as well as New & Lingwood, a tailor who clothes schoolboys at Eton and sells a smoking “psychedelic” hat for £125.

Catamaran also has shares in Dara5, a London-based investment firm co-founded in 2019 by a member of the Al-Thani family who heads Catamar, and previously invested in fetal monitoring business Monica Healthcare, and Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging, which MRI scanners. for animals including horses.

Murty still holds shares, in her own name, in a restaurant business that used a letterbox company in the tax haven of Mauritius, in a structure that could allow her supporters to avoid taxes in India. The company, International Market Management (IMM), hoped to build a chain of multiple restaurants across India, through franchise agreements with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and US fast food brand Wendy’s.

At the time, IMM chief executive Jasper Reid, who manages the venture from New Delhi, said: “This is a standard approach for companies investing in India and there is nothing out of the ordinary.”

A former spokesperson for Murty directed inquiries to No. 10, did not return a request for comment.

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