Hundreds of tycoons ‘to be punished next Tuesday’ as MPs back the legislation – but loopholes spark fury

MPs rushed through the Economic Crimes Bill to deal with Russian oligarchs – but Tory ministers blocked bids to harden the law, giving billionaires ‘cards out of London’ ‘

Boris Johnson leaves loophole in law according to angry critics
Boris Johnson leaves loophole in law according to angry critics

MPs tonight support new legislation the government claims will eventually allow “hundreds” of Russian oligarchs to be sanctioned – as early as next Tuesday.

But angry critics have blown holes in the Economic Crimes Bill – because Tory MPs voted to reject desperate bids to strengthen it.

MPs rushed through the first stages of the Bill targeting illegal cash with Moscow links in the UK, sheltered by property, land and property, and commonly purchased through secret shell companies.

However, Labor newspaper warned the fast-tracked legislation would give Vladimir Putin’s friends a “good start” card and “get out of London” – time to hide “dirty money”. their.

Tory MPs refused to accept Labour’s plan for a 28-day extension to declare assets in the UK. The original proposal of an 18-month grace period is instead cut to six – with ministers also promising to name sales tycoons during the transition.

Boris Johnson also told his MPs to reject a plan to freeze assets immediately, such as land, apartments, villas, yachts and planes, when a tycoon’s name is announced. but before they are actually punished.

Coalition MPs led by Tory David Davis introduced the amendment but it was defeated 300-234.

Vladimir Putin’s close friends are being targeted


Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

“This bill should target the Russian government and Putin himself and his henchmen,” Mr. Davis told MPs.

“That is why the actions against the oligarchs in this Bill are just as important as those against Russian banks and commercial organisations.

“We shouldn’t be kidding ourselves, this is not an economic crime bill, it’s an economic war bill and it’s a war liberal democracies can’t lose.”

Despite the Prime Minister repeatedly claiming the UK was “leading” on tougher sanctions, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss boasted a provision in the Bill that would allow Britain to punish “hundreds of individuals” – who have sanctioned by US and EU – next word Tuesday.

“If Congress passes the legislation by Monday, March 14, we will be able to sanction hundreds of individuals by next Tuesday, March 15,” Ms. Truss said.

She blamed her opponents’ amendments to previous laws for hindering the faster effort.

1 Blocking Russian banks’ access to the West, with plans to switch to a full asset freeze for all Russian banks.

2 Sanctions against the central bank of Russia and financial institutions, have come into force.

3 Preventing Russian companies and the Russian state from increasing debt in the UK, has been enacted.

4 Assets frozen in front of individual oligarchs, 15 so far including Putin and Lavrov and more to come.

5 Targeting key strategic areas including defense with plans to be more in services and energy.

6 Block access to SWIFT, with the UK still pushing for a full SWIFT ban on all Russian banks.

7 Ban Russian planes and ships from landing in the UK, with new legislation next week aiming to put this on a more permanent basis.

8 Prohibit the export to Russia of ‘dual-use’ items such as electronic equipment that can be used in military computers or weapons.

9 Put a £50,000 limit on deposits by wealthy Russians in UK bank accounts.

10 Extension of the above sanctions against Belarus for its role in supporting the invasion of Russia.

11 Full extension of the UK-Crimea trade embargo against the ‘People’s Republics’ of Luhansk and Donetsk. But there is no date yet, as concerns about protecting Ukrainians remain.

12 Sanctions on all members of the Russian Parliament and Russian National Security who voted in favor of the act of aggression. Still in progress although the EU has acted.

For more information, click here.

However, Lib Dem MP Layla Moran said she was concerned an exemption could “drive a car and horse” through the crackdown.

She points out that there is immunity from claiming property if a Tory minister decides it is “in the UK’s economic interests.”

Tory MPs also voted to reduce the bid to be more transparent about funding for enforcement and introduce a new law reform Corporate Building.

Home Secretary Priti Patel insisted the Bill would set a “new global standard for transparency”.

“It creates a register of offshore entities to crack down on foreign criminals using the UK property market to launder money. A foreign company wishing to own land in the UK will be required to identify its beneficial owners and register them with a Limited Company. ”

She added: “This is the first step to completing a cleanup; clean up about how we keep up to date, wipe down on accountability, but also on holding individuals and supporters, managers and everyone else accountable, accountable. ”

The Prime Minister has also personally come under pressure over Russia-born media magnate Evgeny Lebedev being elevated to the post of Lord, after it was reported that he had intervened to overcome MI5’s apparent security concerns. and MI6.

Mr Johnson said it was “not the case” that the security services considered the son of a former KGB agent a national security risk.

He told reporters it was also “simply incorrect” to say he stepped in, adding: “It’s very, very important that we get the message across that we’re not anti-Russian, We are not against the Russians.”

Evgeny Lebedev, Lord Lebedev in the House of Lords

In the Commons, Tory Aaron Bell called on the government to consider legislation to revoke Lord Lebedev’s criticism, to which Home Secretary Priti Patel replied: “We cannot rule out anything.”

Labor MP Chris Bryant also questioned the Tories’ connection to Russian money, pointing to co-chairman Ben Elliott, a party fundraiser, accusing Mr. Quintessentially’s elite concierge business of “providing offers restaurant proposals in Crimea to Russian oligarchs”.

The MP said: “Definitely he should be investigated, and people should stay away from him right now,” the MP said.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper called the statement “deeply disturbing”, adding that the government had a “huge responsibility” to “make sure there are no conflicts of interest” and ensure “stay away from the appalling activities of corrupt Russian elites”.

Quintessentially flatly denied that they offered restaurant recommendations in Crimea.

The company has told the Mirror it has pulled out of Russia and its Moscow branch has had its franchise license revoked and is no longer paying fees for its UK headquarters.

The spokesperson said: “This is one of a number of franchise operations – it does not operate as a subsidiary. In the last few days it has had its license revoked, which means they cannot do business or brand it in any way as Quintessentially in Russia”.

When the UK government promised sanctions against “hundreds” of more wealthy Russians in a week’s time, the spokesman added: “Indeed, Quintessentially is outside Russia.”

When asked about the reason for the withdrawal, he admitted it could be a mixture of “reputation, ethics, business”.

A spokesman for Quintessentially – when Ben Elliot was director – told the Mirror the company’s Russia branch had had its franchise license revoked and was no longer paying fees for its UK headquarters.

The new law will establish a public register of “beneficial owners” of non-UK entities that own or purchase UK land, operated by the House Management Company.

Those who wish to own property or land in the UK will need to identify the owner and register them, and will have six months to do so.

Shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds, told the Mirror: “Labour wanted to take action against Putin’s inner circle in a matter of days, not months but sadly the Conservatives gave the oligarchs a head start. sell their illicit gains and evade sanctions.The bill is only a small part of what is needed to stop Russia’s dirty money from pouring into the country and make it clear who actually owns the assets. companies and assets that support Putin’s regime.”

Around £1.1 billion is known to have been invested by Russians in London property alone. Downing Street has backed sanctions on 15 oligarchs – about half the number for which the EU has imposed measures.

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