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UK’s Sunak followed conflict of interest rules -independent advisor

LONDON (Reuters) -British finance minister Rishi Sunak was found on Wednesday to have adhered to rules on conflicts of interest and the ministerial code in his and his family’s financial affairs, which had attracted sharp political and media criticism.

Sunak’s wife – daughter of an Indian billionaire – confirmed this month that she had “non-domiciled” status allowing her to pay tax in India rather than Britain, something the opposition Labour party said was at odds with Sunak’s role and his tax-raising plans.

He also came under scrutiny for holding a U.S. “green card” – an immigration status intended for permanent U.S. residents – after becoming finance minister in 2020.

Sunak, who had been seen as a strong candidate to succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister, asked the government’s independent ethics adviser to consider whether he had broken any rules.

“I advise that the requirements of the Ministerial Code have been adhered to by the Chancellor, and that he has been assiduous in meeting his obligations and in engaging with this investigation,” the adviser, Christopher Geidt, said in a statement.

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“In reaching these judgements, I am confined to the question of conflicts of interest and the requirements of the Ministerial Code. My role does not touch on any wider question of the merits of such interests or arrangements.”

Labour said the report was a whitewash.

“This report fails to answer the most basic questions and makes a mockery of our democracy. Downing Street has lost all ethical credibility,” said deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner.

The recent spotlight on Sunak and criticism of his decision not to offer fresh support for households hit by surging inflation have led to a slump in his approval ratings.

(Writing by William Schomberg; editing by Andy Bruce and Kevin Liffey)

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