The UK is turning a blind eye to the billions of euros in corrupt assets that Russia’s has invested in the City of London, according to Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, who wrote in a letter to the Sunday Times, “There is no excuse for the UK to turn a blind eye as President (Vladimir) Putin’s kleptocrats and human rights abusers use money laundered through London to corrupt our friends, weaken our alliances, and erode faith in our institutions.”
As Chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Tugendhat was providing the Conservatives with a preview of a parliamentary report on the poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March.
The report accuses the government of a “business-as-usual” approach, which enables Putin and his allies to exploit gaps in the sanctions regime to raise funds. The report makes explicit reference to Gazprom’s continued bond trading in London only days after the attack on Skripal.
The report corroborates evidence presented by the British National Crime Agency, which reported earlier this month that the UK is a prime destination for money laundering of billions of euros of illicit Russian funds from corrupt activities mostly outside the UK, actions that could undermine national security.
According to the parliamentary report, the cost of Russian dirty money outweighs the benefits, which prompted Tugendhat to call on the government to make clear that funds stemming from corrupt Russian sources would no longer be welcome in Britain.
The UK’s Economic Crime Minister Ben Wallace refuted the claim, suggesting that the British government is committed to “driving dirty money and the money launderers out of the country”,
London remains the epicentre of nearly every high profile financial scandal in the post-Soviet space, from Moldova to Russia’s Pacific Coast, including successful attempts to influence the Brexit Referendum and the 2016 US Presidential Election.