Corrupt Russian money in London could complicate Biden sanctions

newspaper said “The timesThe US government has expressed concern that Russian “dirty” money in London will complicate the US mission to impose sanctions on Moscow should President Vladimir Putin decide to invade Ukraine.

The newspaper said in a report translated by “Arabi 21” that US officials had expressed concern about the complications of imposing sanctions, given Britain’s tolerance of the suspicious money that had flowed into London over the years.

The newspaper quoted diplomatic sources as saying that US State Department officials had expressed “outrage and frustration” over the British government’s failure to act against Russian money, especially in the “London Grad”. The source pointed out: “There is a fear that Russian money will become so entrenched in London that there is no longer an opportunity to use it as a printing card against Putin.”

And the source in Washington said: “Biden is talking about imposing sanctions on Putin, but it will be symbolic. Putin is not keeping his money abroad. It’s all in the name of interest groups and most of it is in Knightsburg and Belgrade and under the hearing and eyes of your government. ”

The newspaper adds that the dispute took place amid growing tensions over the crisis in Ukraine and the possibility of a Russian invasion. A Western intelligence source said Russia was only two weeks away from completing the collection force sufficient to control Ukraine. The British National Cyber ​​Security Center has asked British organizations to strengthen their defenses, fearing that the Russians would unleash “massive cyber attacks”.

Russia has mobilized 100,000 troops near the border with Ukraine, at a time when Biden was emphasizing the language and stressing that the invasion would mean the cancellation of the “Nord Stream” gas pipeline. The newspaper added that it was difficult to trace and determine the amount of Russian money invested by the Russian oligarch in London.

In 2016, the government estimated the amount of corrupt money flowing into Britain at almost £ 100 billion a year. In 2020, Parliament’s Committee on Security and Intelligence said the Russian oligarchs had been drawn to London because of “the light and limited regulation and the opportunities that London’s capital and real estate market gives them to invest”.

Transparency International has said that real estate in London is being sold with suspicious Russian money worth one billion pounds. Conservative MP John Penrose, the anti-corruption official, accused Boris Johnson’s government of delaying the Economic Crime Act, which would expose stakeholders’ use of shell companies to buy property in Britain. The Center for American Progress, which is close to the Biden administration, has proposed a joint effort on both sides of the Atlantic “to catalyze strong action by the British government.”

A report by the center prepared by an official from Barack Obama’s term who used the “London Grad” said getting rid of the oligarchs linked to the Kremlin would be a challenge given the strong relationship between Russian money and the ruling Conservative party, the media, real estate and the financial industry. The Conservative Party has reportedly received £ 2 million from donors with ties to Russia since Johnson took office in 2019.

Parliament’s Security and Intelligence Committee called on the government to close what he called the “London Laundry”. Conservative MP Tom Tugenat, who chairs the committee, said: “Protecting Britain means protecting us from external corruption, and we do not need the United States asking us to.”

Some attribute the delay in the Economic Crime Act to Jacob Rees-Mogg, the House leader who refuses to make parliamentary time for her, or to 10 Downing Street, who have given up everything Johnson does not help with his scandal-ridden leadership. problems.

Government officials have said the law is not ready and no promises have been made that it will be passed this year. Activists have long warned that without closing the dirty Russian money spout flooding London, it will then be difficult to control. “London is the money laundering capital of the world, and the situation remains as bad as it was despite successive government promises to stop it,” said Bill Browder, a British-born financier based in Britain.

Browder has been an activist against Russian dirty money since the assassination of his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, a decade ago.

“The reason it continues to be a haven is because there are no rules or enforcement,” he added, and “British law enforcement is a joke.” Russian money was welcomed after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s and with the conviction that Moscow had begun to believe in Western liberal capitalism.

And the British government lifted the victory sign over New York when Russian businessmen decided to choose the London Stock Exchange to showcase their companies. These are companies owned by the Russian people that have been privatized and disposed of on a broad basis and without anyone noticing.

“We rolled the rug for the money,” said Tom Keating of the Center for the Study of Financial Crime and Security at the Royal United Services Institute. “It was not something we were worried about, we did not see it as a security. Risk,” he told MPs in 2017.

And when the Security and Intelligence Committee released its report in 2020, it confirmed what activists had been warning for several years: “The Russians, who owe their fortunes to the Kremlin, and specifically Putin, have found themselves in London irreversibly made possible and use the money stolen from the state. ”

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