Billionaire Sir Richard Branson has responded to criticism over Virgin's handling of the coronavirus crisis. In an open letter to "the Virgin family" Branson thanks his 70,000 staff and addresses "comments" on his "net worth" and the need for government money to support the businesses they work for.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic Branson has faced scrutiny after an early decision to ask Virgin airline staff to take eight weeks' unpaid leave.
The move was met with a barrage of criticism. Richard Fuller, the Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire since 2019, slammed Branson in Parliament, claiming that Branson should use his net worth to pay the unpaid leave and that it could be covered by the "interest on your wealth" claimed by Fuller at the time to be $3.8 billion, "for eight weeks."
As Forbes pointed out at the time, Mr Fuller's estimation of Branson's net worth assumes the £3.8 billion is a cash asset that can gain interest sitting in a bank account. Branson's net worth is compiled from a network of public and private investments. His current cash pile sits at £520 million ($600 million).