UK government seeks to toughen sanctions on Russia with new law
UK MPs are set to pass a new law aimed at toughening sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Economic Crime Bill will let British authorities root out money linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We will pursue Putin’s allies in the UK with the full backing of the law, beyond doubt or legal challenge,” Johnson said.
The UK Prime Minister also met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Dutch leader Mark Rutte on Monday to discuss toughening the West’s response to the war in Ukraine.
Critics say the British government have allowed ill-gotten money to slosh into UK properties, banks and businesses for years.
The anti-corruption group Transparency International says Russians linked to the Kremlin or accused of corruption own £1.5 billion (41.8 billion) worth of London property.
Opposition politicians and anti-corruption campaigners say Johnson’s Conservative party has turned London into a “laundromat” for dirty cash.
Johnson has repeatedly claimed that Britain is leading international efforts to punish Putin over the invasion of Ukraine.
The UK has slapped sanctions on a host of Russian banks and businesses, measures the government says have curtailed Russian economic activity.
So far, London has sanctioned only a handful of Kremlin-linked individuals with assets in Britain, fewer than either the European Union or the United States.
The Economic Crime Bill was set to be passed in the Autumn but has now been rushed through parliament for approval.
The law will require overseas firms with assets in Britain to reveal their true owners, an attempt to crack down on money-laundering and the use of shadowy shell companies to buy businesses and properties.
Initially, the legislation gave businesses 18 months to comply, but the deadline has now been shortened to six months.
Labour Party business spokesman Jonathan Reynolds had still criticised the grace period, stating that it amounts to a “get out of London free card” for oligarchs.
Opposition lawmakers are urging the government to immediately seize oligarchs’ properties in Britain after Italy seized €143 million euros in luxury yachts and villas.
The government says the new law will also make it easier to slap sanctions on people and firms who have already been sanctioned by allies including the US, Canada and the EU.