A powerful committee of MPs has warned that the government is putting national security at risk by allowing “kleptocrats and human rights abusers to use the City of London to launder their ill-gotten funds to circumvent sanctions”.
The foreign affairs select committee said the government’s lax approach to tackling international money laundering is putting money “directly into the hands of regimes that would harm the UK, its interests and its allies”.
In a hard-hitting report titled Moscow’s Gold: Russian Corruption in the UK, the committee said the government was failing to follow through on the prime minister’s “robust rhetoric” in the wake of the Skripals’ poisoning.
“Despite the strong rhetoric, President [Vladimir] Putin and his allies have been able to continue ‘business as usual’ by hiding and laundering their corrupt assets in London,” the report said.
“These assets, on which the Kremlin can call at any time, both directly and indirectly support President Putin’s campaign to subvert the international rules-based system, undermine our allies, and erode the mutually reinforcing international networks that support UK foreign policy.”
Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, the committee chair, said: “We can no longer allow ‘business as usual’. The UK must be clear that the corruption stemming from the Kremlin is no longer welcome in our markets and we will act.
“The scale of damage that this ‘dirty money’ can do to UK foreign policy interests dwarfs the benefit of Russian transactions in the City. There is no excuse for the UK to turn a blind eye as President 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.”
The report said the UK’s weakness to act to stem the flow of potentially questionable Russian money was exposed just days after the UK expelled two dozen Russian diplomats following…