Russian money hidden in British assets and laundered through the financial institutions of the City harms the efforts of the British government to take a firm stand against the aggressive foreign policy of Moscow, a British parliamentary committee said on Monday.
The British government has conducted a diplomatic front against Russia, which the UK holds responsible for the assassination attempt on the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury in March. Moscow has denied any involvement in the attack.
“The extent of the damage that this ‘dirty money’ can cause to British foreign policy interests eclipses the benefits of Russian transactions in the City,” said the chairman of the commission.
“There is no reason for the United Kingdom to turn a blind eye when President Putin’s kleptocrats and human rights abusers use whitewashed money in London to bribe our friends, weaken our alliances and to compromise faith in our institutions, “added Tom Tugendhat.
Among its recommendations, the commission believes that Britain should work with its international allies to make it more difficult for Russia to issue sovereign bonds, which are not subject to sanctions, through banks that they are sanctioned.
Hundreds of billions of pounds are laundered in the UK every year, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said, adding that it is the preferred destination for Russians seeking to legitimise the benefits of corruption.
“The use of London as a base for assets stemming from the corruption of individuals linked to the Kremlin is now clearly linked to a more comprehensive strategy of Russia’s, which has consequences for our national security”, is it written in the report.
It is necessary to strengthen national and international sanctions, argue its authors, who stress that the “size of the London financial markets and their importance for Russian investors gives the UK considerable leverage on the Kremlin.