The UK government is putting national security and democracy at risk by allowing “kleptocrats and human rights abusers to use the City of London to launder their ill-gotten funds to circumvent sanctions,” according to a powerful committee of MPs.
London is a ‘laundromat’ for Russia’s dirty money, said the foreign affairs select committee, adding that the government’s lax approach to tackling international money laundering is putting money “directly into the hands of regimes that would harm the UK, its interests and its allies”.
In a hard-hitting report titled Moscow’s Gold: Russian Corruption in the UK, the committee said the government was failing to follow through on the prime minister’s “robust rhetoric” in the wake of the Skripals’ poisoning, the Guardian adds:
“Despite the strong rhetoric, President [Vladimir] Putin and his allies have been able to continue ‘business as usual’ by hiding and laundering their corrupt assets in London,” the report said. “These assets, on which the Kremlin can call at any time, both directly and indirectly support President Putin’s campaign to subvert the international rules-based system, undermine our allies, and erode the mutually reinforcing international networks that support UK foreign policy.”
“There is no excuse for the UK to turn a blind eye as President Putin’s kleptocrats and human rights abusers use money laundered through London to corrupt our friends, weaken our alliances, and erode faith in our institutions,” said committee chairman Tom Tugendhat.
Money laundering typically involves helping the rich and powerful salt away gains from activities that are clearly illegal, but for which they are unlikely to be prosecuted at home, the Guardian reports in a must-read analysis:
Recent examples include the looting of Angola’s sovereign wealth fund, the sale of valuable mining concessions in the Democratic Republic of Congo in exchange for bribes paid to its president, the government-sanctioned theft of state assets by Russian oligarchs or, in what has become known as the Magnitsky case, the acquisition of wealth by public officials through a complex tax fraud.