MPs ask why Russian crime claim was not investigated
THE National Crime Agency has been asked by two MPs to explain why it failed to investigate “credible” allegations of Russian money-laundering.
The organisation responsible for investigating organised criminal syndicates operating in the UK has been told that its bosses should explain to Parliament exactly who told a senior officer to abandon any inquiry into a Kremlinlinked operation.
Richard Benyon, a Conservative MP, and Labour’s Ian Austin have written to Lynne Owens, the National Crime Agency (NCA) boss, saying they were “shocked” to discover a retired senior officer was told by superiors to “close” any investigation.
Last month, The Telegraph reported that Jon Benton, the former head of the NCA’s international corruption unit, was handed a 37-page dossier produced by Bill Browder, a British financier, alleging money laundering by a Russian crime syndicate linked to the Kremlin.
Mr Browder has run a long campaign against Vladimir Putin’s regime after his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, died in a Moscow jail, where he had been held after exposing corruption and theft from his businesses.
Mr Benton claimed the dossier indicated that money-laundering was taking place and a full investigation was needed. However, he says he was told by an unnamed superior linked to the Foreign Office not to pursue it.
An NCA spokesman said it had reviewed the decision and was confident that there was no political influence.