MPs ask why Rus­sian crime claim was not in­ves­ti­gated

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Robert Men­dick and Steve Bird

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.

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