Labor orders PM Boris Johnson to break the Conservative Party links with Russia and stop dirty cash filtering through UK as Putin threatens invasion of Ukraine
Image: Alexei Nikolsky/TASS)
Labor is demanding Boris Johnson bans Russia from using Britain as a laundromat for dirty money – and to return Tory donations from Russians.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss are to be told: “We can’t stand up to Russia’s aggression abroad while ignoring Russian-linked corruption at home.”
Labor estimates the Tories have taken more than £5million of Russian linked money over the last 10 years.
And as more British troops are sent to square up against Vladimir Putin’s forces on Ukraine’s borders, shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy and shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves say that cash must be returned.
They say in their letter: “It is shameful that Britain is repeatedly described as the money-laundering capital of the world.
“It is in our national and economic interests to address the challenges of hostile influence and interference which the Government’s inaction and behavior have regrettably permitted.”
Joseph Raynor/Nottingham Post)
And Mr Lammy told the Sunday Mirror: “The cozy links between the Conservative Party and Russian-linked donors raise serious questions about our national security at a time when tensions with Russia are on the rise.
“While Boris Johnson tries to talk tough with Vladimir Putin, his own party has been raking in millions from donors with links to Russia.”
President Joe Biden has been warned by US diplomats that Russian money swilling around the UK may hamper Britain’s response to the Ukraine crisis.
And London Major Sadiq Khan is calling for a register of overseas property ownership to combat money laundering and stop the capital being dubbed “Londongrad”.
Mr Khan said: “Ministers have turned a blind eye to the use of our capital city as a safe harbor for corrupt funds. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
Nearly 250,000 properties in England and Wales are now owned by overseas-based buyers, up from 88,000 in 2010.
London now has 85,451 of these properties, with the highest concentration in Westminster where 12,000 neighbor Parliament.
Some are owned by allies of Vladimir Putin while many are left empty denying homes to Brits who need them.
The lack of transparency means that many of these flats and houses could dodge sanctions the PM may slap on Russians if Ukraine is invaded.
Mr Khan added: ”Property in London plays a central role in harboring illicit funds from around the world. That results in many properties being left empty when many Londoners are struggling to afford a home to buy or rent.
“It will prevent the government acting on their tough talk about further sanctions if they are imposed on Putin’s regime”
The last estimate of corrupt money flowing into Britain put the figure at £100billion a year.
Labor now says recommendations from Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee report in 2020 into Russian cash must be implemented in full.
The Lammy/Reeves letter says: “There is much more we must do irrespective of the decisions made by President Putin, measures it should not have taken an army threatening Ukraine to put in place.
“The government has been asleep at the wheel and needlessly left our defenses down at home.”
The pair want to see Companies House reformed to stop fraud, a registration scheme for foreign agents, new laws on computer misuse and a tightening of the rules on political donations.
They also want an end to so-called “golden visas” which allow rich Russians to set up shop here.
An analysis of Tory funding by Labor chair Anneliese Dodds shows that by last year Tory coffers had been swelled by a total of £5,174,848.38 from Russian linked donors.
Russian oligarchs flooded into Britain after Labor PM Gordon Brown decided any foreigner with a spare £1million to invest could settle in the UK, few questions asked.
It was such a successful fund raiser that in 2014 Tory Chancellor George Osborne doubled the cost of investor visas to £2million in exchange for full residency rights within five years. For £10million the paperwork would be completed in two.
A Conservative Party spokesman said: “The Conservative Party only accepts donations from permissible sources, namely individuals registered on the UK’s electoral roll or UK registered companies.
“Donations are transparently declared to the Electoral Commission and openly published by them.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.