UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is being probed by the parliamentary standards watchdog for failing to mention his wife’s interest in a childcare company when discussing a $5 billion funding boost for the sector.
On Monday, Sunak’s name was added to a list of politicians being investigated by Commissioner Daniel Greenberg, who said the probe was initiated last Thursday.
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The case relates to an incident last month in which Sunak announced a £4 billion ($5 billion) funding boost for childcare. The scheme would see people paid bonuses to become childminders, with those entering the profession through a private agency paid double.
When asked by MPs why the policy favored private firms, Sunak did not mention that his wife, Akshata Murty, holds 20,000 shares in Koru Kids, a private childminding agency. Koru Kids is one of six such agencies listed on the government’s website as beneficiaries of the new scheme.
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Sunak’s office insists that he did nothing wrong, and that he declared his interest in Koru Kids to the Cabinet Office in writing before his questioning last month. However, the code of conduct cited by Greenberg states that MPs “must always be open and frank in declaring any relevant interest in any proceeding of the house or its committees,” including verbal ones.
Murty is the daughter of billionaire Indian tech mogul Narayana Murthy. According to the Sunday Times, she and Sunak have a combined wealth of $830 million, making them the richest ever couple to reside in Downing Street.