Boris Johnson has been shamed into changing the law so it is easier to sanction Russians with assets in the UK, stung by criticism that the UK is acting too slowly.
Ministers are tabling amendments to the Economic Crime Bill in order to help the UK align with penalties imposed by allies in the EU and US.
The change will be fast-tracked through Parliament on Monday, meaning allies of Vladimir Putin with money and property in the UK will have another three days’ grace in which to stash their assets elsewhere.
Public opinion is that the Tories have been slow to act because they have taken a fortune in donations from Russians – and they want to know what these UK politicians were asked to do in return for that – as they understand it – dirty money.
In the end, Russian oligarchs bought the Conservative Party for less than the price of a flat in South Kensington. That must be the best investment they ever made.
— David__Osland (@David__Osland) March 3, 2022
Rather than respond to that question, the government seems to have chosen to leave it hanging in the air – trying to divert attention to what it is doing now:
"It's not a competition. It's something we do together"
— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) March 3, 2022
Apparently a minister (was it Hinds?) said that Unexplained Wealth Orders were introduced years ago to allow the government to confiscate assets from people suspected of wrongdoing – and it is widely believed that much of the Russian cash flowing around the UK – and British politics – is ill-gotten. But this just provoked another hard question – and embarrassing answer:
He did at least say none in the last year.
— Lady Half Woman Half Mince Pie (@strandedatsea) March 3, 2022
— Ed Wilson (@eddwilson) March 3, 2022
So, Unexplained Wealth Orders have been an unqualified failure – were they mentioned merely to provide an appearance of activity when none has taken place?
Conservatives accepted £80,000 from Russia-linked donor on eve of Ukraine war https://t.co/enV5L29Pkc
— Jeremy Smyth 🇺🇦 (@jemsmyth) March 2, 2022
It was Boris Johnson’s old friend Lubov Chernukhin. She donated £13,750 in October and £66,500 in December, just months before Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine. In total she has handed £2 million to the Tories.
And what do you think of this?
More than 600 British companies set up last year are controlled from Russia.
All permitted by UK law. No checks on authenticity of information filed at Companies House.
Don't believe the rubbish that UK govt was checking flow of dirty money.https://t.co/pWRADLB2AG
— Prem Sikka (@premnsikka) March 2, 2022
The analysis – which includes many legitimate companies – suggests that thousands of firms listed on the UK’s business register are controlled by Russian nationals who live in the country, with some linked to Putin’s allies.
The final example of Russian influence in the UK, that I’ll include in this article, is something I heard on Radio 4’s Today programme on March 3:
The Germans have now seized oligarch Alisher Usmanov’s yacht.
Usmanov also owns Sutton Place in the UK.
— Mike Galsworthy 🇺🇦 (@mikegalsworthy) March 3, 2022
The presenter – I think it was Evan Davis – said it had been suggested that properties like Sutton Place could be seized and used to house displaced Ukrainians. He expressed deep scepticism that the Tory government would ever have the courage to make such a move.
And this is the problem – one that won’t go away when Johnson introduces a “too little, too late” law change on Monday:
We simply don’t believe prime minister can effectively sanction Russians in the UK when he was compromised and corrupted with dirty Russian money long before he got anywhere near Downing Street.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:
Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.
1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.
2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical
3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/
Join the Vox Political Facebook page.
4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com
And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!
If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!
Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.
The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:
Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:
The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here: