Category Archives: sanctions

Firm connected to Rishi Sunak’s wife is closing Russia office. Lucky escape, Chancellor!

Rishi Sunak: his government has sanctioned firms that operate in, and profit from, connections with Russia, but he had continued to benefit indirectly from his wife’s shares in Infosys, which has an office in Russia. Now that office is to close.

Technology firm Infosys, in which Rishi Sunak’s wife owns shares worth an alleged £400 million, is closing its office in Russia after the Tory Chancellor suffered sustained criticism.

Sunak had tried to claim that it was his wife Akshata Murthy who had been attacked for having a connection with the firm and compared himself to Hollywood actor Will Smith, who slapped comedian Chris Rock for a joke at his own wife’s expense during the Academy Awards ceremony a few days ago.

But it seems nobody was convinced. They were angry with Sunak because, as a member of a government that has sanctioned firms that operate in, and profit from, connections with Russia, he should not have anything to do with such firms.

Because his wife had shares in Infosys, Sunak was indirectly profiting from a connection he should not have.

His decision to hide behind Ms Murthy was disgraceful.

But now, after refusing to take any action to resolve the issue, it seems he has been saved by Infosys itself.

What a lucky escape for him.

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Rishi Sunak’s claim to be defending his wife is false; it’s HE who’s under attack

Rishi Sunak: he wants you to think people have been attacking his wife for her connections with Russia. But he’s the member of the government that sanctions such connections; why is he indirectly continuing to benefit from them?

Who does Rishi Sunak think he is, comparing himself to Will Smith, talking about defending his wife?

In case you missed it, Sunak was interviewed by the BBC’s Newscast and tried to equate himself with the Hollywood actor:

“Someone said, ‘Joe Root, Will Smith, and me – not the best of weekends for any of us’. But I feel, on reflection, both Will Smith and me having our wives attacked – at least I didn’t get up and slap anybody, which is good.”

But he’s wrong; nobody was attacking his wife. Akshata Murthy can do whatever she wants.

But as a member of a government that has sanctioned firms that operate in, and profit from, connections with Russia, Sunak shouldn’t have anything to do with such firms.

His wife has shares in one such firm.

Therefore – indirectly – Sunak is profiting from a connection that he should not have.

That is the reason for the criticism.

It is hypocritical of him to say that other people’s connections to Russia should be cut while maintaining such a connection himself, even if it is only through his wife.

And it is disgraceful for him to hide behind her in the way he has.

Source: Rishi Sunak likens himself to Will Smith in defence of his wife | Rishi Sunak | The Guardian

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Sunak’s link to firm operating in Russia raises ‘double-standards’ issues

Sunak: while he’s been in Parliament saying businesses should divest themselves of involvement in Russia, his wife has been accepting share dividends from one that has chosen not to.

Let’s see if we can get this straight: as part of the UK government, Rishi Sunak has supported sanctions against Russian business interests in the UK – but his family has £400m worth of shares in a firm operating in Russia.

And he’s perfectly happy to have that connection?

That’s a bit – no, a lot – hypocritical, isn’t it? Not to say greedy?

As a government, he’s saying he doesn’t want Russian businesses to take money from the UK, but as a person, he’s saying he wants to benefit from his wife’s business interest taking money from Russia.

Downing Street is right to say this is a “personal issue for the Chancellor”; the attitude chosen by the government is right (or would be, if these sanctions had set to bite immediately they were announced, rather than a month later) and this is a matter for his conscience – and that of his wife, who owns the shares.

Apparently a Sunak spokesperson has said all is well because neither his wife nor any members of her family “have any involvement in the operational decisions of the company”. But they’re still taking money, aren’t they?

The firm itself – Infosys – says its presence in Russia is to service global clients locally, has no active business interests with Russian enterprises, and supports peace between Russia and Ukraine.

But that doesn’t matter.

As Labour’s Louise Haigh put it, “The chancellor has explicitly called on business to divest from Russia in order to inflict economic pain and ensure that the sanctions are as deeply felt as possible.”

And now we find that he wants every business to do that – apart from his wife’s.

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Tory Braverman slammed over immigration, Lebedev and Abramovich

Suella Braverman: another cringeworthy performance.

UK Attorney General Suella Braverman took a pummelling from the public and other panellists on the BBC’s Question Time over the Conservative government’s contradictory attitudes.

The Tories claim to want Ukrainian refugees while making it hard for them to enter the country, and claim to be sanctioning Russian oligarchs while actually giving them all the help they could want to keep their assets from being frozen or removed.

Braverman argued in favour of the heavy number of checks on refugees – but with half of those seeking entrance to the UK being children, does her claim that they are needed to prevent terrorist attacks really ring true?

Labour’s Wes Streeting pointed out what we all know about Boris Johnson’s relationship with now-Lord Lebedev – that the prime minister ignored advice from the security services that they were unhappy with his nomination to the House of Lords and put him there anyway. Challenged to refute the claim, Braverman evaded the issue.

And Streeting also pointed out that sanctions against Russian oligarchs in the UK act so slowly that Roman Abramovich was able to remove all his assets before they bit.

As even former Torygraph editor Max Hastings said, “The Conservative Party’s relationship with Russian oligarchs is a badge of shame for this country.”

See for yourself:

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Will Tories sanction the Russian-owned firm that created Downing Street TV studio?

The never-used government TV briefing room: it has seen some action with internal Downing Street meetings but let’s face it – the vacuum cleaner (that I clipped from this image) has seen more use.

This is well worth resurrecting:

It was alleged last year that the £2.6 million studio created for White House-style Downing Street TV briefings was kitted out by a Russian firm called Megahertz.

Work done by the company included installing computers, cameras, microphones and a control desk.

I seem to recall writing on This Site last year that we don’t know what software extras might have been built into this studio, for the benefit of very serious people in Moscow.

But the question for now is simply this:

Has full payment been made for this work? If not, will it be withheld?

And will the firm suffer sanctions and be denied future government work?

Source: Exclusive: Russian-Owned Firm Played Key Role In Downing Street Media Refit | HuffPost UK Politics

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More than two million people pay £61-per-month Tory ‘poverty tax’

Sanctions imposed by Tories on people claiming Universal Credit mean 2.02 million people are paying an average monthly ‘poverty tax’ of £61 from their benefit payments.

DWP figures show 46 per cent of the money was used to repay loans that the Tories force people to take because they won’t pay UC to anybody for five weeks after they make a claim.

Another 19 per cent was used to repay Tax Credits that the government overpaid people in the past and is refusing to write off.

According to The Welfare Times,

The figures were uncovered by SNP MP Chris Stephens, who is also a member of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee [who] said: “This is essentially a Poverty Tax on people who are struggling to heat their homes and put food on the table.

“Universal Credit is meant to be a subsistence benefit that covers basic living costs. If £60 a month is being taken away from it, when living costs are rising rapidly, how are people meant to subsist?”

The article stated that Tory government rules mean single adults over 25 get £324.84 per month, with additional payments for housing, children, and disability – but up to a quarter can be taken to pay DWP-created debts.

Repayments for social fund loans, hardship payments, integration loans, and other benefit overpayments may also be deducted.

Astonishingly, a DWP minister – David Rutley – responded to Mr Stephens by claiming the deductions were not debts – right after saying the aim was to “seek to balance recovery of debt against not causing hardship for claimants and their families.”

Apparently the DWP reduced the maximum deductable amount from 40 per cent to 25 per cent of monthly UC payments, and made them repayable over two years rather than just one.

But it still isn’t enough and, with the cost of living skyrocketing because of Tory political decisions, people are going to suffer. What will this government do about it?

It’s just another example of the fact that the Tories find it easier to bully poverty-stricken UK citizens than to sanction billionaires who may be connected to a warmongering foreign regime.

Source: Over 2 million on Universal Credit hit by £61-a-month ‘poverty tax’

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New Tory law to sanction Russians actually lets them off the hook

Boris Johnson and Alexander Temerko: You can imagine the conversation – “Don’t worry Alex, the fix is in so you can keep donating hundreds of thousands of quid to us via Aquind Ltd.

A law to harden and quicken UK sanctions against allies of Vladimir Putin that was fast-tracked through the House of Commons contains a clause to get them all off the hook.

The Economic Crime Bill intends to end anonymity for foreign billionaires who own land and other assets in the UK, making it harder for them to launder money into the country. Apparently they’ll be named on a register and that will stop them.

But Section 18 of the Economic Crime Bill, “Exemptions”, states:

“The Secretary of State may, by giving written notice to a person, exempt the person under this section if satisfied that to do so is necessary – (a) in the interests of national security; (b) in the interests of the economic wellbeing of the United Kingdom; (c) for the purposes of preventing or detecting serious crime.”

The Secretary of State, at the moment, is Priti Patel.

You see the problem?

The Bill makes it entirely possible for Russian oligarchs with close connections to members of the government like, perhaps, Boris Johnson to persuade them that transparency would force them to remove their assets from the UK and therefore harm the economy, and that it is in the UK’s economic interest for their identities to remain confidential.

This encourages This Writer to reason that the government has never intended to sanction Russians with close connections to it; we know no sanctions have been imposed on Russians who have donated money to the Conservative Party or any of its MPs, and now we see that the new clampdown Bill is designed to exempt them from any penalties.

This is more evidence that although the Johnson government says it supports Ukraine, it is in fact on the side of the Russians who pay their drinks bills.

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Russia-Ukraine: third round of talks begins – but will Johnson try to sabotage them?

Is Boris Johnson Vladimir Putin’s useful idiot? If Johnson announces new sanctions against Russia while that country is holding peace talks with Ukraine, it could provide an excuse for Putin to continue the war.

Russian and Ukrainian diplomats are meeting for a third round of peace talks, amid a wave of propaganda from both sides.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy reckons “there will be judgement” on Russia for its invasion of his country, while Vladimir Putin says Russia would quit Ukraine immediately if Ukraine agrees to demilitarise, and to allow the disputed regions in eastern Ukraine their autonomy.

None of the claims are realistic, and This Writer doubts they will be mentioned when the talks restart at 2pm today (4pm in eastern Europe). The negotiators will be looking for a mutually-acceptable conclusion – not trying to score public relations points.

I don’t think Russia will be prepared to give any ground on the disputed eastern regions that are inhabited by people of Russian ethnicity, who identify with Russia and who have (allegedly?) been persecuted for many years.

Nor will Russia relent on its determination that the Crimea should be acknowledged as a Russian territory. This is not unreasonable as it was only given to Ukraine by Nikita Khrushchev in an act of remorse for what he saw as that country’s poor treatment within the USSR.

But the demand for Ukraine to demilitarise is unreasonable. If that country rid itself of all military forces, there would be nothing to stop Russia from rolling straight back in and taking over completely.

And there’s no reason for Ukraine to do as Russia demands; when an invader finds out he can’t win, you don’t offer to make it easier for him.

Realistically, both sides know this. They’ll be seeking a solution that allows them both to walk away with dignity.

Unfortunately, Boris Johnson has decided to hold talks on further sanctions against Russia, at the same time as the peace negotiations are taking place. He started his meeting with the Canadian and Dutch prime ministers at midday and is planning a press conference at 2.50pm – while the Russia-Ukraine talks are taking place.

Will he make an announcement that could upset the peace process? Probably. Johnson is a fool who acts only in what he sees as his own interest.

But what is Johnson’s interest?

Judging by his behaviour so far, his interests lie in prolonging Russia’s war, protecting that country’s interests in the UK, and preventing Ukrainian refugees from gaining asylum here.

An announcement of further sanctions – to be imposed at an undefined point in the future, as far as the UK is concerned – may be just the inflammatory stimulus Russia needs to call off peace talks again.

Bear in mind: it is the timing of the press conference that is contentious. By making an announcement on sanctions while the peace talks are taking place, Johnson is denying Putin and Zelenskyy a chance to come to an agreement.

If they were to make progress, an announcement on sanctions may be unnecessary in any case.

It seems that, by trying to appear proactive, Boris Johnson is simply trying to get in the way.

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Johnson’s sanctions hesitation lets Russians make $423 million AFTER invasion of Ukraine

Let the money flow, says Johnson: it’s all going into the pockets of his Russian friends – at a time when Western governments are supposed to be cutting off the flow of money into Russia.

File this under: evidence that Boris Johnson is an asset of the Russian government.

Four Russian-born oligarchs have raked in $423 million in dividends on shares in Russian companies on the UK stock exchange, after the UK imposed sanctions on Russian firms.

How were Roman Abramovich, Alexander Abramov, Aleksandr Frolov and Alexander Nesis able to have the payouts from Evraz and Polymetal? Simple.

Those firms weren’t on Boris Johnson’s list of those to be sanctioned.

In total, the four named billionaires have received $4.5billion (£3.4billion) in payouts from the FTSE100-listed Russian commodities giants since the Tory government of the day failed to act decisively on them after Russia annexed the Crimea in 2014.

None of the four billionaires have been sanctioned either.

It seems Boris Johnson – and his government – deliberately pretended to be imposing heavy sanctions while doing nothing of the sort… wouldn’t you agree?

Source: Oligarchs take £3bn in dividends from Britain | This is Money

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50,000 UC claimants sanctioned per month but the Tories haven’t sanctioned a single Russian donor

With friends like these: One of the key figures in forging links with Boris Johnson’s Tories was Sergei Nalobin, a diplomat suspected of being a Russian spy. This Site has loads of photographs of Johnson with suspected Russian spies.

It doesn’t matter whether Boris Johnson and his cronies really are secretly siding with the Russians in an act of treachery against the West; you can still be sure that they aren’t siding with you.

This Site reported that, after face-to-face meetings resumed in March last year, the number of sanctions against Universal Credit claimants multiplied 15-fold, from 960 to 15,929.

Figure to November 2021 show the number of sanctions had risen to 49,944 by November – and this is not the total sanctioned across the whole month but only those under sanction on the day the official figure was taken.

It also excludes UC claimants who are not in “conditionality” groups, like severely disabled people.

So sanctions by the UK government against its own people multiplied more than 50 times in nine months.

Contrast that with sanctions against Russians who have stashed money in the UK – including giving donations to Conservative MPs – since Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine:

That Tory co-chair would be Ben Elliot, who is facing calls for him to resign or be sacked (here are some details).

The classic example of a Russian who could have his assets seized is Roman Abramovich, who is currently hoping to sell Chelsea FC for £3 billion before shifting the money out of the UK, having been warned to do so within 30 days by the Boris Johnson Advice Bureau for Rich Russians:

And details of donations to top Tories from people and organisations with links to Russians – whether sanctioned or not – keep being revealed. For example:

People have been asking what Russian donors to the Tory Party/government have had in return for their money…

It seems possible to answer that question now – at least in part.

What did the Putin-linked Russians get in exchange for their huge Tory donations? Exemption from sanctions until they have taken their money out of harm’s way.

And the contrast between the government’s treatment of Universal Credit claimants and rich Russian donors proves something else:

Tories would rather stamp down hard on their own fellow UK citizens than take meaningful action against enemies of the nation who have given them some dirty money.

Source: DWP Universal Credit sanctions soar to 50,000 a month in ‘extremely worrying’ rise – Mirror Online

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