British lawmakers have begun a new inquiry into money laundering, sanctions and economic crime; with a particular focus on properties bought with "dirty money".
The action comes after Prime Minister Theresa May said there was no place in the UK for "serious criminals and corrupt elites" in the aftermath of the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal. The poisoning has led to deteriorating relations between the UK and Russia, with tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats.
Nicky Morgan, Chair of the Lower House Treasury Committee, which is leading the inquiry, said: "Given the threats that face the UK, the effectiveness of the regimes that we use to protect our financial system from misuse has never been more important.
“It has been claimed that the UK, particularly the London property market, is becoming a destination of choice to launder the proceeds of overseas crime and corruption – so-called 'dirty money’.’’
Morgan said the inquiry would look at Britain’s international efforts to tackle money-laundering and terrorist financing.
London has become a popular venue for rich Russians to buy property, leading to it being nicknamed “Londongrad”.
Aziz Rahman, founder of Rahman Ravelli, said the latest measures are just one in a series of developments that have made it more important than ever before that companies and individuals take all possible precautions to avoid being implicated in money laundering.
He added: “This inquiry is far from the only measure that has been introduced in recent years to tackle money laundering.
“The UK now has unexplained wealth orders, which place a responsibility on someone to give a satisfactory explanation for how they acquired, for example, a house – or have it taken from them. Money laundering regulations have placed more obligations on a wide range of organisations to have greater controls in place and make more thorough checks on the sources and ownership of wealth. And there are now more inquiries being made in the UK by foreign authorities investigating money laundering.
“There will be many who may need to take advice on how to avoid being involved in money laundering or on how to defend their assets, if they are suspected of being the proceeds of crime.’’
Read our article: MAKING SURE YOU DO ENOUGH TO PREVENT MONEY LAUNDERING