Rishi Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murty, is winding down her startup investment fund, months after questions were raised over its links to taxpayer-funded schemes.
Murty’s venture capital fund, Catamaran Ventures UK, gave little detail, only saying that its directors “have decided to liquidate the company”, according to its latest filings at Companies House.
Sunak’s wife used Catamaran Ventures UK to invest some of the vast wealth she derives from her 0.91% stake in her father’s Indian IT business, Infosys, which earlier this year was worth £590m.
However, the fund’s operations came under scrutiny when it emerged that a number of the startups it backed received cash injections through taxpayer-backed schemes, or owed money to HM Revenue and Customs.
That included the upmarket furniture firm, New Craftsmen, which collapsed into liquidation in November 2022 after receiving £300,000 in taxpayer-funded loans handed out under policies that Sunak put in place while he was chancellor.
Catamaran also backed the education firm Mrs Wordsmith, which secured £1.3m from the Future Fund, a £250m investment scheme, designed by Sunak, that was intended to help small startups ride out the pandemic. Under the scheme, the government extended loans that would then convert into shares when the companies attracted new funding.
Mrs Wordsmith collapsed six months after receiving the funding, owing £249,000 to HMRC.
Another of its investments, the fitness chain Digme Fitness, fell into administration in 2021, after having received Covid furlough payments of up to £630,000. It also owed more than £6.1m in VAT and PAYE taxes.
Catamaran also put money behind Study Hall, an education technology business which is still trading, that was given a government grant of £349,976 from the arm’s-length body Innovate UK in 2022.
Murty’s financial arrangements have been an ongoing point of contention during Sunak’s time in Downing Street.
The prime minister came under criticism after it was revealed that Murty held “non-dom” tax status, allowing her to legally minimise tax on dividends from Infosys, which were worth £11.5m in the last financial year. She subsequently agreed to pay tax in the UK on her worldwide income.
Her shareholding in the childcare company Koru Kids later became a source of controversy, after the prime minister was found to have breached parliament’s code of conduct by failing to declare it while being questioned by MPs earlier this year . Koru Kids was among six private childcare providers poised to benefit from a pilot scheme proposed in the budget to incentivise people to become childminders. However, parliament’s commissioner for standards said the breach was inadvertent.
The Guardian contacted No 10 for comment regarding the wind-down of Catamaran Ventures UK.