Corrupt Russian officials targeted with sanctions for their role in human rights abuses should be treated like terror suspects and named in a public list, the Prime Minister’s anti-corruption tsar says today.
Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, John Penrose welcomes Theresa May’s so-called “Magnitsky amendments” allowing ministers to impose asset freezes and visa bans on human rights violators, but warns they will not go “far enough”.
On Tuesday, the Government is expected to introduce to the Sanctions Bill the Magnitsky amendments, named after Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer killed while investigating a giant fraud.
Mr Penrose states that the new powers are “essential”, but adds: “Will these proposed new powers go far enough? … We’ve got to publish the names of people whose assets we’ve frozen, whose property we’ve confiscated, and whose visas we’ve refused.
“We already do it for suspected terrorists subject to financial sanctions, and for banned terrorist organisations too, so why should some of the nastiest human rights-abusing criminals on the planet be any different?”
He added: “If we won’t name names, the world will rightly ask if those oligarchs and kleptocrats are quivering in their boots, or happily planning their next shopping trip to Harrods. And we won’t have the answers.”
Mr Benyon, Mr Mitchell and Jonathan Djanogly, a former justice minister, also said a public list was essential.
“The key issue is that by having a list there is a punitive effort for those on it, insofar as they are marked as people to be dealt with carefully, and in practice it makes it much harder for them to access finance because western banks tend not to want to go near them,” Mr Djanogly said.
“Secondly, for those who are thinking of doing wrong it is there to encourage them not to.”
Mr Penrose also calls on the Government to speed up plans to introduce a public register of property owners, including individuals who use companies to mask their ownership of a building. Ministers have said the new register will not be ready until 2021.
“Given what’s just happened in Salisbury, we need to look at getting this moving much sooner,” he writes.
Separately. the Government today announces a crackdown on the use of the 100-year-old Scottish Limited Partnership scheme, which it says has been exploited by money-launderers, who in one case used 100 such structures to move up to £58 billion out of Russia.