While it’s been a favoured destination for affluent Russians and their wealth for some time, Global Insight assesses the sudden and growing pressure to keep this source of dirty money out of the City.
In May, a report by the UK House of Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee – entitled Moscow’s Gold: Russian Corruption in the UK – heavily criticised the UK government for turning ‘a blind eye to London’s role in hiding the proceeds of Kremlin-connected corruption’. The report said this was in sharp contrast with the government’s outwardly critical response to Russia’s alleged role in the nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury two months earlier.
Jessica Parker is a partner at corporate crime specialists Corker Binning and Senior Vice-Chair of the IBA Business Crime Committee. “It was the same with the Panama Papers and tax transparency, which led to a lot of criticism of law firms and accountants that advise on aggressive tax litigation,” she says. “This type of criticism tends to come from Parliamentary committees, but it’s the job of lawyers to advise on the law… It’s for Parliament to draw the lines and for lawyers to advise within those lines. If Parliament doesn’t want these kinds of deals happening in London then they need to legislate to stop them.”
Parker points out that enforcement is key. “The agencies have lots of powers, but many of the changes are just subtle shifts of what’s happened before,” she says. “The real message is more enforcement is required.”
Read the full article in the IBA here.