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An ashtray filled with cigarette butts is seen in front of a board showing currency exchange rates of the US dollar and euro against rouble in Moscow
Image: An ashtray filled with cigarette butts is seen in front of a board showing currency exchange rates of the US dollar and euro against rouble in Moscow. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MPs Accuse UK of Turning “Blind Eye” to “Dirty Money” from Russia

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Image: An ashtray filled with cigarette butts is seen in front of a board showing currency exchange rates of the US dollar and euro against rouble in Moscow. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Several MPs are joining accusations that the U.K. has been turning a “blind eye” to Russian “dirty money.”

 This, say the accusers from the Commons foreign affairs committee, is placing national security at risk.

“Corrupt Assets”

According to the Commons foreign affairs committee, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies have been using London to hide “corrupt assets”.  The committee went on to underscore that this type of behavior in the U.K. was considered to be “business as usual,” despite the risks it involves.  Moreover, it was not called into question even when Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned.

The actions undermined British efforts to stand up against the wealth of offensive measures set into place by President Putin, it said.

The United Kingdom’s “lethargic response is being taken as proof that we don’t dare stop them… London’s markets are enabling the Kremlin’s efforts,” wrote Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, the committee chairman, in a recent media article before the committee’s report was published.

Keeping Dirty Money Out

Ben Wallace, security and economic crime minister, stated that the committee did not call him to give evidence. “I fear such an omission weakens the foundation of the report,” said Wallace.  He stated that the country was “determined to drive dirty money and the money launderers out.” Wallace also went on to say that the government “will use all the powers we have, including the new powers in the Criminal Finance Act, to clamp down on those that threaten our security.”

The ministers should begin to look into the “gaps” that exist within the sanctions regime, said Tungendhat. Those gaps, he said, were what made it possible for President Putin, the Russian government and the president’s associates to continue to use London as a place to raise funds.

A Scathing Report

The report was titled Moscow’s Gold: Russian Corruption in the UK. It provided broad statements and specific examples of the issue of the Russian use of London for “dirty money.” Among its lead examples was that Gazprom, a Russian giant, was permitted to continue its London trading only “days after the attempted murders” of Skripal and his daughter.

The report quoted the Russian embassy in London’s tweet saying “Business as usual?” following the rapid return to business between the United Kingdom and Russia after the poisonings.

“The scale of damage that this ‘dirty money’ can do to UK foreign policy interests dwarfs the benefit of Russian transactions in the City,” said Tugendhat. “The UK must be clear that the corruption stemming from the Kremlin is no longer welcome in our markets and we will act.”

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Alvexo on the matter.