Has Rishi Sunak benefitted from Government contracts during the pandemic? A hedge fund, where the Prime Minister was a founding partner, has seen its profits more than double in a year.

A nnual reports published on Companies House reveal that Theleme Partners made £109m in the year up to 31 March 2022 – a £65m increase from the previous year.

Theleme is heavily invested in COVID vaccine manufacturers Moderna – which last month signed a 10-year partnership with the UK Government for an undisclosed sum.

The Prime Minister left the company in 2013 in order to pursue his political career. However, he has refused to deny that he will profit from a surge in the share price of vaccine manufacturer Moderna and subsequent profits from Theleme.

The mystery is further compounded by the failure of the PM to publish his tax returns, despite promising to do so.

In 2020, Sunak hired John Sheridan, a partner at Theleme, to advise the Treasury on COVID policies. The fund has invested 34% of its pot in Moderna – its single biggest investment, reported to be valued at $710m.

Theleme Partners LLP’s parent company is based offshore in the Cayman Islands and lists the notorious Ugland House as its address. The small office is the registered home to approximately 40,000 entities. In the past, former U.S. President Barack Obama was highly critical of this arrangement and labelled the building as “the biggest tax scam in the world”.

In a recent press release, Theleme said:

Rishi Sunak worked at Theleme from 2010 to 2013. Once he left, he ceased to have any ongoing financial interest in the funds managed by Theleme. Neither Mr Sunak, nor any of his family members, have held a financial interest in any fund managed by Theleme, or in any Theleme management company entity, since 2013.”

When asked, Theleme denied that Mr Sunak has any interest “either indirect or direct” in its funds. However, when asked how it could possibly know whether Mr Sunak was a beneficiary under a trust that held Theleme funds, it failed to respond. According to the latest list of Ministerial Interests, Mr Sunak’s wealth is managed by a blind trust.

Theleme also asked us to make clear that Jolyon Maugham KC, Director of Good Law Project, had represented its founder, and Mr Sunak’s then-boss, Patrick Degorce, in court. It’s a matter of public record that Mr Degorce embarked upon a tax avoidance scheme and that Mr Maugham acted for him in the tax tribunal.

The cabinet was approached for comment, but they haven’t responded.

PMP Magazine

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Text: This piece was originally published in GoodLaw Project and re-published in PMP Magazine on 6 February 2023, with the authors’ consent. | The authors write in a personal capacity.
Cover: Flickr/Number 10. - PM Rishi Sunak. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)

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