RUSSIAN oligarchs are flooding London with “dirty money” – and ministers are failing to stop them, a new report warns today.
A powerful Commons committee said it was “business as usual” for wealthy Russians despite Vladimir Putin’s increasing global meddling.
As much as £100billion of Russian cash has poured in to the UK – while Putin’s allies have been allowed to make billions on the British stock exchange.
The foreign affairs select committee called for the Government to show “political leadership” and keep out ill-gotten gains.
The report said: “Despite the strong rhetoric, President Putin and his allies have been able to continue ‘business as usual’ by hiding and laundering their corrupt assets in London.
“This has clear implications for our national security. Turning a blind eye to London’s role in hiding the proceeds of Kremlin-connected corruption risks signalling that the UK is not serious about confronting the full spectrum of President Putin’s offensive measures.”
The committee singled out the way that Russia was able to raise £3billion by selling government bonds in London just two days after Theresa May expelled 23 of Putin’s diplomats from Britain in the wake of the Salisbury poisoning.
They also pointed to a £650million bond issue by energy firm Gazprom which took place at the same time.
And last year, Kremlin-linked oligarch Oleg Deripaska made £1.5billion by floating his firm on the London Stock Exchange despite warnings from MI6 and US spooks.
Vladimir Ashurkov of the Anti-Corruption Foundation told the committee that around £100billion of money has come to Britain from Russia over the past two decades, with a “a fraction” of that being “the proceeds of corruption and crime”.
Transparency International said at least £4.4billion worth of British property deals had involved “suspicious wealth”.
The report suggested that Russian money has been “invested in stocks, shares, bonds, properties, yachts, planes and reputation laundering”.
Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat said: “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 UK must be clear that the corruption stemming from the Kremlin is no longer welcome in our markets and we will act.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan added: “I don’t want our city to be a centre for laundering dirty money from Russia – or anywhere else – the Government needs to act now.”
And John Penrose, the Tory MP who is Theresa May’s anti-corruption champion, called for Britain to slap new sanctions on “oligarchs, kleptocrats and organised criminals”.
He said: “After the Salisbury attacks, the last thing Britain needs is for anyone to question our strength or determination in the fight against dodgy Russians, or anyone else for that matter.”
The best-known Russian oligarch in Britain, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, is currently banned from the country after his UK visa was not renewed.