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Sunak’s Tax Affairs Back in Spotlight in UK Race to Succeed Johnson

·2 min read

(Bloomberg) -- Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak denied ever opening and using offshore banking trusts, as he faced renewed scrutiny over his financial interests at the start of the final runoff to become the next UK prime minister.

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Sunak’s tax arrangements were in the spotlight once again as he sought to position himself as the only candidate who could beat Labour leader Keir Starmer at the next general election.

Pressed by LBC Radio on Thursday night on whether he had “ever opened and used offshore banking trusts in a tax haven,” Sunak replied: “No.”

Read More: Sunak Requests U.K. Probe of His Financial Interests Amid Furor

It came as Channel 4 News aired claims that he had benefitted from funds based in tax havens when he worked at hedge fund Theleme Partners in the US. Any assets he had there were subject to US tax, Sunak’s team told Bloomberg.

Questions over Sunak’s wealth and financial arrangements are nothing new: he faced intense pressure in April when it emerged that his millionaire wife, Akshata Murthy, held non-domicile status and was not paying UK taxes on her overseas income -- a stance she has since reversed.

But they have resurfaced at a difficult time, just as Sunak seeks to lead the UK through a cost-of-living crisis with inflation at a four decade-high and household bills soaring.

He warned that his rival in the campaign to become Conservative leader and UK premier, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, would lead the Tories to defeat at the next election. “It’s pretty clear that I am the person that is best placed to defeat Keir Starmer in the next election,” he told LBC.

Read More: Truss Extends Lead Over Sunak in Race to Lead UK, Poll Shows

A YouGov survey on Thursday, however, suggested Truss was more popular with Conservative Party members, with a 24-point polling advantage over Sunak. It’s up to the members to decide the ultimate winner: Sunak and Truss will take part in a six-week tour of hustings across the UK before the final result is announced Sept. 5.

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