The wealth of wealthy Russians who have gone to the UK, sent their families there, who invested money in real estate there or simply stored their assets there, were for the first time in serious danger. The sword of Damocles hung over the well-being of thousands of Russians from Londonrade.
Tens of thousands of the richest people of Russia left for Great Britain during the years of Vladimir Putin's reign. And this is not a mass of political dissidents, but those who are trying to keep the "acquired" and create a spare airfield in case of a change in power, a new redistribution of the market, or an unexpected selection of assets that has become common under Putin. This is not only Russian businessmen, lobbyists and spies, but also current and former major officials, as well as Russian leaders and their relatives, whose billion-dollar origins are inexplicable, to put it mildly.
But after the chemical incident in Salisbury, which was catastrophically inappropriate not only for the very fact of what happened, but also for the time of its conduct (on the eve of the re-election of President Putin), the British authorities were called upon to destroy this "hornet's nest" at last.
During a speech at the British Parliament on 12 March, Prime Minister Teresa Mei said that Russia was "most likely involved in what happened" in Salisbury, and called London's response to a hematoca, in which British citizens suffered. In Russia, the focus of all these measures was given only to the expulsion of 23 diplomats. However, the most serious answer is contained in the part of the "secret measures" against Russia that May said: "We will take measures that are within the competence of our national security services and are aimed at countering the threats posed by the actions of the hostile state ... I outlined only some of the But there is something about which it is impossible to speak publicly because of national security considerations. "
So the Prime Minister answered the remark of the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British Parliament of the Conservative Party Tom Thugendhat, who stated that with regard to all dubious Russians from the "Putin circle", and against the Putin family and himself, who stole at least 3 billion from the people, Unexplained Wealth Orders.
Following the head of the committee on foreign affairs of the parliament, Boris Johnson, the head of the British Foreign Ministry, expressed his view on the need for prompt and harsh measures. He said that in relation to residents of the country, Russians will be applied for property status on the basis of the Unexplained Wealth Orders, adopted only this year. He did not rule out the seizure of property and assets of wealthy Russians associated with President Vladimir Putin.
In an interview with BBC Radio, the Foreign Minister said that the British National Crime Agency (NCA), established in 2013 to fight Russian organized crime, and the Economic Crime Unit are investigating a very "wide range persons, "Reuters reports. "People would like to see that, with respect to some very rich persons directly connected with Putin, law enforcement agencies and police applied property status queries, so that they could be held accountable for their obvious corrupt activities," Johnson said.
He did not name a single name, but this is not required. The names of all residents of "London" on hearing.
As the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes, Russian billionaires connected with Putin's government and even from the government itself, acquired a chic real estate in London.
So, a spacious apartment in Whitehall Court, a chic Victorian mansion, located a short walk from Trafalgar Square and Prime Minister's residence in Downing Street, was bought by Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, the newspaper writes, estimating the value of this property at 11,5 million pounds .
"Where does the politician have money for such expensive London housing? Until now, this issue has been puzzled only by the organization of Transparency International," the article quoted by InoPressa says. "However, soon Shuvalov and other wealthy Russians in London will have to answer questions from the British authorities" .
Shortly before the attempt on Skripal, British legislators gave investigators new weapons, the newspaper said, referring to the new British law Unexplained Wealth Orders, according to which owners of expensive real estate are required to explain the origin of the money for which it was purchased. If no reasoned explanation is provided, the British authorities have the right to begin the process of confiscating a particular property object.
The entry into force of the new law is in no way connected with the latest chemistry, in which Russia is accused. The law was adopted in late December 2017. But due to poisoning in Salisbury Unexplained Wealth Orders will be used as retaliation.
To force owners to disclose sources of income, the British authorities will use the decision of the High Court of London. Thanks to the new legal norms, they will be able to get it faster and easier: for this it is not even necessary to have a well-founded suspicion of criminal fraud. It is enough that the suspect, firstly, appears as a "politically significant person" in Russia or from Russia, and secondly, that there was a reason to believe that these assets did not come from a permanent income.
The British authorities are ready to actively use the rules of fighting organized crime that came into force this year for investigations into the numerous rich Russians living in the country.
As part of the Criminal Finances Act of 2017, British law enforcement agencies can now arrest property if the owner is unable to justify the origin of the funds spent on acquiring it.
British authorities can simply send to foreign owners of assets in the country a request for the unexplained origin of their property (Unexplained Wealth Orders, UWO), then send a request for interim Freezing Order and then freeze any suspicious assets in excess of 50 thousand pounds sterling (about 71 thousand dollars) until the owner properly explains their origin. If the explanations are unintelligible, then the assets can be confiscated.
The decision to freeze assets is made by the High Court of London on application from certain government departments, including the British Income and Customs Service (HMRC), the National Agency for Combating Crime (NCA), the Financial Crimes Supervision Service (SFO) or the FCA financial regulator .
The new rules apply to "politically significant persons", among whom are, in particular, deputies of various levels, former and current officials, former and current high-level heads of state-owned enterprises. In addition, the law extends to their assistants and relatives. The subject of investigation may also be the education in England of their children or treatment in the UK.
Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Ben Wallace, who oversees national security issues, immediately threatened rich Russians with an interview with The Times: "When we get to you, we will come for you, for your assets, and we will create this situation, that you will have to live in difficult conditions.When the details of Londromat became known, we learned that there were connections with the state.The government holds the view that we are aware of their intentions and we are not going to allow that about what happened next. "
"Londromat" (Laundromate, "self-service laundry") in Britain refers to cases involving the withdrawal of funds from Russia through Western banks by shell companies, many of which are registered in the UK.
In 2017 in the UK, the world's first public register was created with the names of property owners hiding behind the offshore. Russian investors owning fashionable houses and estates and at the same time hiding behind anonymous companies will now have to reveal their names in accordance with the new measures of the British government to combat corruption. Otherwise, their property can be confiscated.
As noted by RBC, large Russian companies are unlikely to abandon doing business in the UK, but risks arise from individuals who own large assets there, especially from officials and heads of state companies, even former ones.
Great Britain has long been a magnet, attracting dubious cash flows from Russia and other countries. Three years ago, currency experts from Deutsche Bank estimated that during the period from 2006 to 2014, more than 90 billion pounds of illegal funds flowed into Britain. And most of them are from Russia.
According to the agency of real estate Knight Frank, about a fifth of the elite real estate in London belongs to Russian-speaking citizens.
According to Transparency International, in London, approximately 40 thousand properties are managed by anonymous front companies from offshore centers. And the real owners often do not know anything.
In the UK, the former top manager of Gazprom Invest South, Andrey Goncharenko, the owner of Basic Element, Oleg Deripaska, the businessman Vladislav Doronin, the owner of Vyatka-bank Grigory Guselnikov, the son of the vice-president of Lukoil, Anton Fedun, has a "spare airfield" , Alfa Group shareholder Herman Khan, one of Russia's richest people Alisher Usmanov, former banker Alexander Lebedev, president and co-owner of Alfa Bank Peter Aven, the main shareholder of Evrokhim and SUEK Andrey Melnichenko, former co-owner of Euroset Evgeny Evgeny Chichvarkin, his pairs Euroset sales manager Timur Artemyev, ex-owner of Trust bank Ilya Yurov, co-founder of Mr. Doors Maxim Valetsky, co-owner of the holding company Marta Georgy Trefilov, former vice president of Rosneft Anatoly Loktionov, co-owner of the London restaurants Global Craftsmen Group Roman Zelman, former head of the Bank of Moscow Andrei Borodin, former president of the NGO Cosmos Andrey Chernyakov , the founder of Mezhprombank Sergey Pugachev, the ex-general director of Beeline (a brand of Vimpelcom) Mikhail Slobodin, the former owner of Inkreditbank and STB Bank Herman Gorbuntsov ...
The list can be continued on many pages. But first of all, the British government intends to pay attention to the leaders of Russian state companies, businessmen associated with President Putin, current and former Russian politicians and officials.