Telegraph: Foreign Secretary urged to strengthen laws against corrupt oligarchs

DOMINIC RAAB is being urged to use Britain’s post-Brexit sanctions regime to target kleptocrats and corrupt oligarchs who prop up authoritarian regimes.

In a letter to the Foreign Secretary, John and 44 other MPs and peers warned that the Government’s existing suite of sanctions sends “the wrong signal” to those involved in corruption because it fails to mirror so-called Magnitsky laws introduced in the US and Canada.

The parliamentarians want ministers to introduce legislation aimed at preventing the UK from “becoming a magnet for individuals engaged in corruption”. The intervention comes after Mr Raab said that Magnitsky clauses in the Sanctions Act would allow UK authorities to target human rights abusers in a coordinated move along with the US and Canada. The move was first announced by Theresa May in the wake of the Salisbury attack, and insiders have said the powers are likely to be used to sanction citizens of Russia, Libya and North Korea.

The US and Canada have both introduced visa bans and asset freezes under specific schemes drawn up in the name of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died in a Moscow prison while investigating an alleged tax fraud involving state officials.

But the peers and MPs, led by Lord Alton, a former Liberal Democrat chief whip, state that the version introduced as part of the UK’s post-Brexit sanctions regime fails to cover corrupt individuals who prop up the human rights abusers that it does target. The group includes Baroness Butler-Sloss, the former High Court judge, John Penrose, Boris Johnson’s corruption champion, and Lord Williams of Oystermouth, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. It is also signed by Andrew Mitchell, Bob Seely, and Andrew Selous, the Conservative MPs. Bill Browder, a financier on whose behalf Magnitsky was working in Russia, and who has since led a global campaign for sanctions in his name, said: “It is particularly important for the UK to sanction kleptocrats because so many of them keep homes and investments here”

Mr Penrose added: “We need to hit them where it hurts – in the wallet – so they can’t do business or live off their ill-gotten gains in the UK.”