Saturday, Apr 01, 2023

Questions raised over time-lag on UK moves to sanction oligarchs

Questions raised over time-lag on UK moves to sanction oligarchs

Only eight people named so far sanctioned in UK with critics saying a process likely to ‘take weeks and months’ allows time for ‘asset flight’
Liz Truss is facing mounting questions over why the Foreign Office will take “weeks and months” to sanction Russian oligarchs, with the UK lagging behind the US and EU after targeting just eight individuals with links to Vladmir Putin.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has for days been promising to target a “hit list” of oligarchs but refuses to say when the names will be ready, despite warnings from MPs that billionaires will already be taking their assets out of the country.

Senior Tory MPs have been growing increasingly frustrated by what they see as a lack of preparation on the part of the Foreign Office, with some having warned Truss months ago that the UK should be ready with a response against London-based oligarchs with links to Putin if Russia were to invade.

Labour also raised concern about “asset flight” by oligarchs who fear they may be hit by sanctions soon and worries that the UK is “off the pace” compared with the US and EU.

Priti Patel, the home secretary, claimed on Tuesday there were “legal reasons” for the time being taken, with officials trying to make sure sanctions are watertight against legal challenge.

Cabinet sources insisted the UK had been going further on hitting banks and financial operations with sanctions than other countries, with more than 120 entities targeted to date.

Asked whether more oligarchs would be blacklisted this week, a Foreign Office source said on Tuesday: “We will be sanctioning more oligarchs over the coming weeks and months.”

But David Davis, the Tory former Brexit secretary, said the financial industry sanctions “were not going to hit Putin where it hurts most”.

“We need to target many more of his allies and facilitators that have frankly bought their way into British society and that’s what’s really missing,” Davis said.

“We need to target those owning businesses on our stock exchange. We need to target those owning London homes that we can no longer afford because of Russian operations in London. We need to target oligarchs who own football clubs that many of our citizens can no longer afford to attend.”

He added: “I do worry about the government moving so slowly that its prey escapes it.”

In the House of Commons, Davis named Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire with property in London, saying “according to the Spanish national intelligence committee, he is one of the men who manages Putin’s business affairs. That is a really important issue about whether he should be on our target list.”

Abramovich, the Russian billionaire who recently passed stewardship of Chelsea FC to a charitable foundation, has vehemently disputed reportsalleging he is close to Putin or that he has done anything to merit sanctions.

Bob Seely, a Tory MP and member of the foreign affairs committee, said oligarchs needed to be under the spotlight as they were “not just obscenely rich people who are mates with someone” but part of the Kremlin’s “structure of control and power whether it is in east Ukraine or in the UK”.

The EU announced a list of sanctions against Russian businessmen on Monday night, including billionaires Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven. They have vowed to contest the restrictions.

Fridman is a Ukrainian-born energy tycoon who owns AlfaBank with his partners, including Aven. He bought and still owns Athlone House in Highgate, north London, for £65m in cash in 2016, according to the Land Registry.

The billionaire, who is one of Russia’s richest men, controls private equity firm LetterOne, which owns Holland & Barrett. In a letter to his employees this week, he called for an end to the “bloodshed” in Ukraine and stated that “war can never be the answer”, without directly criticising Putin.

Others to be sanctioned by the EU, but not the UK, include Alexei Mordashov, a major shareholder in TUI, the London-listed travel company. Alisher Usmanov, who has sponsorship links to Everton, also had his assets frozen as part of sanctions imposed by the European Union in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Uzbekistan-born billionaire’s USM Holdings sponsors Everton’s training ground, with an initial five-year deal announced in 2017.

Another Russian oligarch not sanctioned by the UK is Oleg Deripaska, who has been on the US sanctions list since 2018 over his alleged links to the Russian government, which he has taken legal action to challenge.

This week, Deripaska called for peace talks to begin “as fast as possible” in a post on the messaging app Telegram. “Peace is very important,” wrote Deripaska, who founded the Russian aluminium giant Rusal, in which he still owns a stake through shares in its London-listed parent company EN+ Group.

The British government strongly defended the sanctions it has already put in place. The Foreign Office source added: “Liz has been clear we have a hit list and we’ll be working our way through that as part of a rolling package. Nothing – and no one – is off the table.”

Robert Jenrick, another former Tory cabinet minister, also argued that the most important sanctions were those that have a “systemic impact on the Russian economy”.

He said parliament “should not be going down the rabbit hole of interest in individuals and oligarchs – important though that is – as that is not going to make a material difference in the short term”.

He added that many of those business people left Russia many years ago and are not currently close to Putin.

Related Articles

The G-7 aims to make global crypto regulations tougher
Russia arrested an American reporter for the Wall Street Journal on espionage charges
Don’t Dismiss China’s Peacemaking Bid
China and Brazil have signed a new deal that will allow them to trade in their own currencies, bypassing the US dollar as an intermediary
Elon Musk and Others Call for Pause on A.I., Citing ‘Profound Risks to Society’
Nashville style execution
“We've had evidence prior to the pandemic that masks were largely ineffective at preventing community transmission of influenza “
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz:
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz rejects being labeled a "billionaire"
Jamie Dimon is being deposed over JPMorgan Chase role in Epstein lawsuits
Brand new security footage has just been released to the public showing the Active shooter Audrey Elizabeth Hale drove to Covenant Church School in her Honda Fit this morning, parked, and shot her way into the building
U.S. charges FTX's Bankman-Fried with paying $40 million bribe
Nashville Police release bodycam footage showing officers neutralizing trans shooter of Christian school
Fallen 'Crypto King' Who Owes Millions to Investors Was Kidnapped and Tortured
Regulators blame social media for SVB's rapid collapse: 'Complete game changer'
AOC explains why she opposes banning TikTok
Singapore’s Prime Minister says China and US need to stabilize relations because world can't afford a confict between the two superpowers
Gordon Moore, a co-founder of Intel Corporation, died at 94
Powell: Silicon Valley Bank was an 'outlier'
Bordeaux town hall set on fire in France pro democracy protest
Police violence in Paris
Donald Trump arrested – Twitter goes wild with doctored pictures
NYPD is setting up barricades outside Manhattan Criminal Court ahead of Trump arrest.
Credit Suisse's Scandalous History Resulted in an Obvious Collapse - It's time for regulators who fail to do their job to be held accountable and serve as an example by being behind bars.
Paris Rioting vs Macron anti democratic law
'Sexual Fantasy' Assignment At US School Outrages Parents
The US government has charged Chinese businessman Guo Wengui with leading a $1 billion fraud scheme that cheated thousands of followers out of their money.
Credit Suisse to borrow $54 billion from Swiss central bank
Russian Hackers Preparing New Cyber Assault Against Ukraine
"Will Fly Wherever International Law Allows": US Warns Russia After Drone Incident
If this was in Tehran, Moscow or Hong Kong
TRUMP: "Standing before you today, I am the only candidate who can make this promise: I will prevent World War III."
Drew Barrymore
China is calling out the US, UK, and Australia on their submarine pact, claiming they are going further down a dangerous road
A brief banking situation report
Lady bites police officer and gets instantly reaction
We are witnessing widespread bank fails and the president just gave a 5 min speech then walked off camera.
Donald Trump's asked by Tucker Carlson question on if the U.S. should support regime change in Russia?.
Silicon Valley Bank exec was Lehman Brothers CFO
Elon Musk Is Planning To Build A Town In Texas For His Employees
The Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse effect is spreading around the world, affecting startup companies across the globe
City officials in Berlin announced on Thursday that all swimmers at public pools will soon be allowed to swim topless
Fitness scam
Market Chaos as USDC Loses Peg to USD after $3.3 Billion Reserves Held by Silicon Valley Bank Closed.
Senator Tom Cotton: If the Mexican Government Won’t Stop Cartels from Killing Americans, Then U.S. Government Should
Banking regulators close SVB, the largest bank failure since the financial crisis
Silicon Valley Bank: Struggles Threaten Tech Startup Ecosystem"
Man’s penis amputated by mistake after he’s wrongly diagnosed with a tumour
In a major snub to Downing Street's Silicon Valley dreams, UK chip giant Arm has dealt a serious blow to the government's economic strategy by opting for a US listing