‘Britain’s FBI’ warns UK lawyers and accountants working for Russian oligarchs as they ramp up scrutiny of suspicious wealth in crackdown on £90bn of ‘dirty money’ in London
- In wake of the Salisbury nerve agent attack, authorities are targeting oligarchs
- It is estimated around £90billion in dirty money is washing around in the City
- Now NCA chief warns accountants and lawyers working for foreign billionaires
A director at the National Crime Agency has sent out a warning to British lawyers and accountants working for Russian oligarchs as the UK ramps up pressure on dirty money linked to the Putin regime.
It is estimated that around £90billion in ‘dirty money’ from abroad is washing around the City of London, as those who profit from corrupt governments or foreign mafias launder their cash in the UK.
In the wake of the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury, which saw a British mother of three killed and four hospitalised, UK authorities are under pressure to clampdown on any wealthy Russians with links to Vladimir Putin.
The NCA – known as Britain’s FBI – has confirmed it is looking at ‘Russian targets’ of a new scheme which will allow authorities to seize property bought with dirty money
Roman Abramovich has faced difficulty getting a visa. Igor Shuvalov (right), former first deputy prime minister of Russia, owns two flats in Whitehall near the Ministry of Defence
Donald Toon, the director of the economic crime unit of the NCA, which is often called Britain’s FBI, has called on lawyers and financiers working for suspicious clients to come forward.
He told the Financial Times that his agency is looking at the people working for the super-rich, adding that those who were ‘closer to the customer’ would be in a better position to spot wrongdoing.
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He added: ‘Do we have concerns about the effectiveness of customer due diligence in parts of the legal profession and the accountancy sector? Yes, we certainly do.’
Mr Toon confirmed that the NCA is looking at ‘high-value Russian assets’ in Britain and were looking at taking more cases to court.
Donald Toon, the director of the economic crime unit, sent out a warning to British accountants and lawyers working for oligarchs
The government faced criticism in the summer when it emerged that the new wealth orders, which require oligarchs to prove how the purchase of property was funded, had been used just three times in the first six months.
Mr Toon insisted that the number of the orders being used would rise to more than 10 by the end of next summer.
Government sources have previously suggested ‘more than 100’ foreigners could be targeted by the orders.
A Whitehall source told the Mail last week: ‘There is a lot going on that the public can’t see in terms of visas and investigations into individuals’ wealth.
‘The NCA is looking at more than 100 cases, but these things take time to get right. People might have noticed that Roman Abramovich isn’t in the country any more.’
THE SUPER-RICH WHO COULD FACE CRACKDOWN
Financial investigators are examining whether dozens of wealthy Russians linked to Vladimir Putin’s inner circle should face sanctions. Potential targets include:
In March, the Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable cited the case of Igor Shuvalov, former first deputy prime minister of Russia, who owns two flats in Whitehall near the Ministry of Defence bought in 2014 for £11.4 million.
An official declaration by Mr Shuvalov in 2014, while still in office, said his salary was £112,000.
The Russian career politician spent £11.4million on a vast six-bedroom apartment in Whitehall Court, overlooking the Ministry of Defence headquarters – despite declaring an entire net worth of £634,000. The transaction was channelled via a tax haven to an opaque company.
Igor Shuvalov (pictured with Roman Abramovich and footballer Andrei Arshavin) celebrates after the result for the for the 2018 Fifa World Cup bid was awarded to Russia
Often described as Putin’s favourite oligarch, Abramovich’s ‘play time’ in the English capital may soon draw to a close.
The Chelsea Football Club owner’s visa was not renewed earlier this year. He has since withdrawn the application and claimed Israeli citizenship, allowing him to visit the UK.
Despite his lavish spending, divorce and penchant for yachts, Mr Abramovich, far left, still has an estimated net worth of almost £9billion.
Chelsea owner Abramovich was unable to attend his side’s appearance in the FA Cup final this summer over visa problems
The aluminium magnate’s net worth was slashed by 15 per cent after US authorities issued sanctions against him. While not close to Putin, he is unpopular with President Trump.
In London, Mr Deripaska, left, owns the former home of Conservative politician and diarist Sir Henry ‘Chips’ Channon in Belgravia.
Russian tycoon and President of RUSAL Oleg Deripaska pictured in Davos, Switzerland
The daughter of a Russian politician, she paid £22million for a ten-bedroom mansion on the Wentworth estate in Surrey this year. Months earlier, she bought a £10million London flat.
Her father Rinat, 54, is the former finance minister in the Republic of Tatarstan. His official income is just over £105,000 a year.
lsina Khayrova attends the Summer Ladies Lunch in support of Nadezda charitable foundation at Mortons in June
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