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Infosys is Shutting Down Russia Operations and the Reason is Linked to UK's Rishi Sunak

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is married to Infosys founder Narayan Murthy’s daughter Akshata Murthy. (AP/File)

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is married to Infosys founder Narayan Murthy’s daughter Akshata Murthy. (AP/File)

According to Infosys annual report, Akshata Murthy owns over a $90,00,00,000 stake in the company, which has yielded more than $1,50,00,000 in dividend payments over the past year.

Over a month ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war against neighbouring country Ukraine, calling it a “special military operation”. Since then, several countries have taken strict actions and many companies have also decided to restrict their operations in Russia.

Now, amid the Russia-Ukraine war, Indian IT giant Infosys has found itself in quite a complex situation, even though India hasn’t taken sides for diplomatic reasons. The company, in which founder Narayan Murthy’s daughter Akshata Murthy owns a stake, is “urgently” closing its office in Russia.

The decision by Infosys to close its Moscow branch comes as Akshata Murthy’s husband and UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak faces mounting pressure to respond to allegations that his family is profiting from the company’s continued operations in Russia despite the invasion of Ukraine.

The Guardian reported that according to an Infosys insider, the corporation was “urgently” shutting its Russian operation and “relocating” its employees to other nations.

In the United Kingdom, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer demanded that the Chancellor clarify whether his family had been “benefiting from money” earned in Russia when the government has imposed sanctions on corporations and individuals.

Sunak had neglected to comment on his wife Akshata Murthy’s 0.91% ownership in Infosys, despite his repeated calls for British corporations to pull out of Russia to “inflict maximum economic pain” on Putin’s dictatorship.

According to the company’s most recent annual report, Akshata Murthy owns over $90,00,00,000 (690 million pounds) stake in the company, which has yielded more than $1,50,00,000 (11.5 million pounds) in dividend payments over the past year.

However, Sunak told the BBC’s Newscast that it was “very upsetting and … wrong for people to try and come at my wife”. He also noted parallels between Will Smith, who slammed comedian Chris Rock at this year’s Oscars following a joke about his wife, as well as Joe Root, England’s cricket captain.

“Someone said Joe Root, Will Smith, and me – not the best of weekends for any of us. But I feel, on reflection, both Will Smith and me having our wives attacked… at least I didn’t get up and slap anybody, which is good,” he said.

Sunak has been chastised by Labour and Liberal Democrats for his wife’s investment in the company, with shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh calling it “quite shocking”.

In response, Sunak said: “You know, I think it’s totally fine for people to take shots at me. It’s fair game … [But] it’s very upsetting and, I think, wrong for people to try and come at my wife.”

Additionally, Sunak also defended Narayana Murthy, saying he has nothing but enormous pride and admiration for everything his father-in-law has accomplished, and that no amount of smearing will change that because “he’s wonderful and has achieved a huge amount. As I said, I’m enormously proud of him”.

Despite most major global IT and consulting organisations such as Accenture, KPMG, McKinsey, Oracle, PwC, and SAP shuttering their Russian operations, Infosys continues to operate in Russia. Earlier, the company said that it has a small team of personnel based in Russia who provided local support to some of its worldwide clients.

“Infosys has a small team based out of Russia, that services some of our global clients, locally. We do not have any active business relationships with local Russian enterprises. A key priority for Infosys in times of adversity is to continue extending support to the community. The company has committed USD 1 million towards relief efforts for the victims of war from Ukraine,” Infosys said.

However, ministers must register any financial interests that could cause a conflict of interest, including those of their spouse and close family, according to the ministerial code.

In this case, a representative for the Chancellor stated that Akshata Murthy and her family did not have any “involvement in the operational decisions of the company”.

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