Rich Rus­sians in UK to be tar­geted with ‘un­ex­plained wealth or­ders’

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Sun­day Tele­graph Re­porter

RUS­SIAN oli­garchs sus­pected of cor­rup­tion will be forced to ac­count for their lux­ury lifestyles in the UK in a new crack­down on or­gan­ised crime, a gov­ern­ment min­is­ter has said.

Ben Wal­lace, the se­cu­rity min­is­ter, said the “full force of gov­ern­ment” would be brought to bear on for­eign crim­i­nals and corrupt politi­cians who use Bri­tain as a haven.

Of­fi­cials will use new un­ex­plained wealth or­ders (UWOs) – which came into ef­fect this week – to seize sus­pi­cious as­sets un­til they have been prop­erly ac­counted for.

“When we get to you, we will come for you, for your as­sets, and we will make the en­vi­ron­ment that you live in dif­fi­cult,” Mr Wal­lace told The Times.

The move comes as Lon­don’s role as a play­ground for Rus­sian gang­sters and the su­per rich has been high­lighted by the BBC drama se­ries McMafia.

Mr Wal­lace said min­is­ters wanted to ex­ploit the suc­cess of the pro­gramme – based on the fac­tual book of the same name by Misha Glenny – to raise pub­lic aware­ness of the is­sue of cor­rup­tion.

“McMafia is one of those things where you re­alise that fact is ahead of fic­tion,” he told the pa­per. “It’s a re­ally good por­trayal of sharp-suited wealthy in­di­vid­u­als, but… be­neath the gloss there is real nas­ti­ness. So far it’s very close to the truth, the in­ter­na­tional na­ture of or­gan­ised crime and the im­punity with which some of these peo­ple op­er­ate and the bru­tal­ity of it, is ab­so­lutely cor­rect.”

Mr Wal­lace pointed to the so-called Laun­dro­mat case – in which ghost com­pa­nies, many based in the UK, laun­dered dirty Rus­sian money through western banks – as an ex­am­ple of Rus­sian in­volve­ment in or­gan­ised crime. “What we know from the Laun­dro­mat ex­posé is that cer­tainly there have been links to the [Rus­sian] state. The Gov­ern­ment’s view is that we know what they are up to and we are not go­ing to let it hap­pen any more,” he said.

Of­fi­cials es­ti­mate that around £90bil­lion of il­le­gal funds is laun­dered through the UK ev­ery year.

The es­tab­lish­ment of UWOs will en­able the au­thor­i­ties to freeze and re­cover prop­erty if in­di­vid­u­als are un­able to ex­plain how they ac­quired as­sets in ex­cess of £50,000.

Ben Wal­lace says that BBC drama ‘McMafia‘ has raised pub­lic aware­ness of cor­rup­tion

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