04 Feb 2019
Businessman and Putin critic Bill Browder has hit out at what he says is the United Kingdom’s reluctance to investigate money laundering.
He also alleged that British lawmakers took bribes to prevent probes.
Addressing the European Parliament this week, Browder said: “Some people are benefiting from this flow of money and I believe in particular in the UK there is a lot of Russian money flowing around.
“That money is being spent and paid to certain members of the British establishment, to make sure that things aren’t happening [to prevent money laundering.
“We’ve actually found evidence of payments to members of the House of Lords and other people in that regard.”
He also said: “It’s harder to get the UK to investigate money laundering than to enter Harvard.”
Browder has previously approached British law enforcement agencies urging them to investigate financial crime carried out in Russia and linked to London, but his requests were not taken up.
His quest to tackle large-scale money laundering involving government officials has seen the United States and other countries adopt the Magnitsky Act, a law aimed at sanctioning abusers of human rights following the death of his lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died while in Russian custody.
In response to Browder’s comments, a spokesman for the National Crime Agency (NCA), the UK unit that specialises in money laundering investigations, said: “Mr Browder has raised his concerns regarding Russian money laundering in the UK on a number of occasions. His specific allegations were considered within the International Corruption Unit and it was determined that a UK criminal investigation was not an effective way forward.
“The evidence required for a successful prosecution or the recovery of illicit funds is significant and in this case we judged that there was no realistic prospect of this within the UK. For this reason the NCA has offered, and continues to offer, assistance to foreign partners better placed to investigate Mr Browder’s allegations but remains open to consider new evidence that might allow the progression of a UK investigation.”
A House of Lords spokesman said: “Investigations are ongoing into two Members following complaints about their interests in Russia. The investigations are not finished and so it is wrong to say they have reached any findings or found any breach of the Code of Conduct.”
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