Just How Rich Is Rishi Sunak, the UK’s New Prime Minister?

A big chunk of Sunak’s wealth is linked to his Indian billionaire father-in-law.
Pallavi Pundir
Jakarta, ID
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Pedestrians in Mumbai, India walk past paintings congratulating Rishi Sunak made by street artists. Photo: Indranil Mukherjee/ AFP

Rishi Sunak’s appointment as the UK’s next prime minister champions many firsts. The 42-year-old will succeed two prime ministers, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, within a span of just seven weeks. He’s the first person of colour, first Asian, married to an Indian citizen, and the youngest prime minister in modern British political history to move into 10 Downing Street.

And then there’s his wealth. 


Sunak’s net worth is over $800 million, according to one estimate, which is more than King Charles III’s $500 million. The British media often obsesses over Sunak’s expensive clothes or their million-dollar mansions and penthouses. The focus on his wealth and non-whiteness often overshadows his conservative, anti-immigrant and anti-poor stance. He was featured on the Sunday Times Rich List 2022 in July, while the cost of living in Britain soared


Now as Sunak takes charge, attention is shifting to where his wealth comes from. And eyes are on his Indian heiress wife Akshata Murty, and her billionaire father Narayana Murthy. 

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Narayana Murthy, who co-founded Infosys, is known for putting India on the global tech map. Photos; Manjunath Kiran / AFP

Murthy is an Indian business behemoth worth $4.5 billion. Known as the father of India’s IT sector, his company Infosys put India on the global tech map. Infosys is a billion-dollar software giant that defies global economic slowdowns and has nearly 200 offices and development centres across the world. Murthy retired but continues to hold minority stakes in the company. Last year, the company drew an annual revenue of $16.21 billion. The company’s UK branch announced major expansion plans in the years to come. 

Sunak, a former investment banker, has roots in present-day Pakistan. His family immigrated to the UK in the 1960s from East Africa. Until this week, Sunak – whose father was a doctor and mother ran a pharmacy – was mostly referred to by the Indian press as “Narayana Murthy’s son-in-law.” On Monday, Murthy, who reportedly flew to the UK to support Sunak during elections, congratulated his son-in-law for his appointment. In the Indian office of Infosys, celebrations broke out


Infosys also created the world’s largest digital social security system called Aadhaar in India. The $1.4 billion-project has been criticised for potentially endangering privacy and data, and heightening surveillance, but it has 1.31 billion Indian users. Wealth like Murthy’s also gives a jarring picture of income inequalities in India, where the top 10 percent of rich people hold more than 70 percent of the country’s total wealth. In 2015, Murthy donated $226,458 to erect a Mahatma Gandhi statue in London. 

While Sunak has come under pressure to reveal his personal fortune, which he manages through a blind trust, his affiliations to his father-in-law’s company were questioned in March, when a Sky News journalist asked him why Infosys was still running an office in Russia during the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and whether his family is benefitting from the money made through that business. Infosys later wrapped up their Russia office. 


Sunak has never declared personal stake in Infosys, but his wife Akshata holds 0.93 percent stake in the company, which is worth $750 million – and makes her richer than the late Queen. This year alone Akshata has earned more than $15 million in dividend income from her shares in Infosys. During the March questioning, Sunak said that his wife is exempt from the accountability that comes with his public office. “I have nothing to do with that company,” he said. He later told the BBC that he finds criticisms of his wife’s wealth “very upsetting” and equated it to Will Smith listening to Chris Rock mocking his wife’s condition at this year’s Oscars ceremony. 

For years, the Sunaks’ collective wealth, much of which is not in the official register of ministers, divided the British public. In April, Akshata non-domicile status was criticised and it was alleged that the Indian citizen doesn’t pay taxes there despite staying for nearly a decade. Akshata’s spokesperson initially denied that speaking to the BBC, but later said she will pay UK taxes on her worldwide income. 


Apart from her Infosys stake, Akshata has a wide investment portfolio. A big part of it is the UK arm of her family’s private investment firm, Catamaran Ventures, which she founded with Sunak but now runs by herself. Public records show she owns at least 75 percent of its shares. This year, an investigation revealed that she also owned shares in a London-based investment firm co-founded by Qatar’s ruling Al-Thani family, one of the world’s wealthiest families. The family’s massive influence in the UK came under the radar after a family member was accused of giving cash donations to King Charles III, which he admitted to taking

In South Asia, Sunak’s class and caste privilege, and his association with one of the wealthiest South Asian families, evokes strong sentiments. 


Sunak’s biographer Michael Ashcroft, who wrote Going for Broke: The Rise of Rishi Sunak, turned down VICE World News’ interview request but in an op-ed published on Monday, he wrote, “The fact that he grew prosperous as a financier, and then married the daughter of a highly successful Indian businessman, is held against him…Only disaffected MPs and those who indulge in the politics of envy would attack Sunak for his triumphs in life.”

Anas Sarwar, a Scottish politician said that while he disagreed with Sunak’s politics and mandate, “it’s important to recognise the significance of Britain’s first Prime Minister of South Asian heritage. It’s not something our grandparents would ever have imagined when they made the UK home.” To which journalist and political activist Ashna Sarkar’s response went viral, “I dunno man, my grandma was a socialist and lifelong antiracist who warned about the dangers of individual advancement without collective justice!”

“What does Rishi Sunak becoming Prime Minister mean for the Black and Asian households who are 3 to 4 times more likely to experience food insecurity than the national average?” Sarkar added

British journalist Basit Mahmood said that Sunak’s rise is not a sign of Britain's meritocracy. “It’s a sign that class privilege, going to elite private schools, knowing the right people and having obscene amounts of wealth work in your favour. [This is] the exact opposite of social mobility and meritocracy.”

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