Rishi Sunak’s billionaire father-in-law, Narayana Murthy, co-founded Infosys, a highly successful IT firm which made him one of India’s richest men.
Murthy retains a lucrative stake in the business, as does his daughter – Sunak’s wife Akshata.
Until April this year, the Infosys board of directors included Uri Levine, an Israeli entrepreneur known for creating the popular Waze traffic navigation app.
Levine is a veteran of Unit 8200, an elite Israeli army cyber warfare division that spies on the country’s adversaries.
He served with Unit 8200 during a five year spell in Israel’s military in the 1980s. Levine was appointed to the Infosys board in 2020.
Infosys was already operating in Israel before hiring Levine. In 2012, it signed a memorandum of understanding with the Office of the Chief Scientist of Israel, to collaborate on research and development (R&D).
“Arnon spent 12 years serving in Israeli military intelligence prior to entering the private sector”
This has led some to speculate that Infosys supplies technology to Israel’s security apparatus. Declassified could not find direct evidence of this and Infosys did not respond to a request for comment.
When the deal was signed, Sunak’s father was chairman emeritus of Infosys. He was made chairman of the board in June 2013 before stepping down in October 2014, while retaining a valuable shareholding.
The company’s investment in Israel deepened in 2015 when it acquired Panaya, a local tech firm, for around $200m, although Murthy was critical of the deal. Last year, Panaya hired Tal Arnon as its vice president of R&D.
Arnon spent 12 years serving in Israeli military intelligence prior to entering the private sector.
He was a senior officer in a special ops unit and became chief of communication in Technological Unit 8153. Similar to Levine’s old Unit 8200, it develops technology for Israeli special forces.
Arnon says on his LinkedIn profile that he was: “Responsible for developing unique communications and computer systems for special ops missions”.
Panaya is a wholly owned subsidiary of Infosys. Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murthy, holds a 0.94% share in Infosys, which earned her an annual dividend worth around £13m. Her father retains a 0.4% share in the firm.
Although Sunak has not formally declared that his relatives have specific shareholdings in Infosys, the arrangement has been well publicised.
Less highlighted is Sunak’s family profiting from a business that has appointed Israeli military intelligence veterans to senior positions.
If his relatives were making money from businesses managed in part by former Russian or Chinese spies, then there might be more of an outcry.
Sunak did face criticism over his in-laws profiting from Infosys when the firm was still operating in Russia, at a time when the PM was urging British business to boycott Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
But because Israel is an ally of the UK, despite illegally occupying parts of Palestine and Syria, the connections are unlikely to cause him political problems in Westminster.
Sunak was asked to comment.