New bill promises to stop kleptocrats ‘treating Britain like their safe’ | Russia

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Companies House will be given new powers to challenge incorrect or fraudulent claims made by kleptocrats and their agents in a financial crime bill that was previously delayed by Boris Johnson just weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine.

The new bill – the second of two that had to be hastily re-submitted due to allegations that the government had become bogged down in the face of dirty money – is backed by the new security minister, Tom Tugendhat.

“I am pleased that today we are introducing reforms that will make it much harder for kleptocrats to shield their ill-gotten gains and treat Britain as their safe,” said the former Conservative leadership candidate as he published the bill.

The company registrar has been previously accused acting as little more than a mailbox, taking all the claims of kleptocrats and their representatives at face value, thereby making them official, to Britain’s embarrassment.

But proposed reforms were delayed at the beginning of the year, caused the dismissal by then Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Agnew – and criticism from Labor that the Conservatives were soft on Russian “dirty money”.

Johnson was forced to announce that the economic crime bill would go ahead, but it was split into two parts. The first was focused on creating a register of overseas ownership of British land and property and on making it easier to prosecute those involved in breaking sanctions. It was rushed through in the spring.

Other measures in the latest bill include tightening the regulation of Scottish and other limited partnerships. Lightly regulated Scottish limited partnerships had been seen as havens for money launderers from Russia and elsewhere due to their low reporting requirements and the fact that they can be controlled by opaque offshore companies.

Law enforcement agencies will gain new powers to more quickly and easily seize cryptocurrencies that are the proceeds of crime or illegal activity such as ransomware hacking attacks. Money laundering using crypto has increased sharply, Europol warned earlier this year.

A paper published by the Rusi think tank earlier this week urged both the US and UK to continue to focus on fighting corruption after a burst of activity at the start of the war last February.

“While Russia’s invasion has underscored the need to combat this problem now, it was years of turning a blind eye to ‘dirty money’ that allowed it to take root in democratic societies, particularly in the US and UK,” wrote the authors. , Isabella Chase and Maria Nizzero.

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