LONDON (AFP) – Britain introduces today new legislation to crack down on “dirty money” and corrupt elites as it ramps up its campaign to hit Russian finance over Ukraine.
The move comes after the government took flak over its response to date to choke off the years-long flow of rich Russians’ hot cash into the United Kingdom (UK), where it has infiltrated financial and property markets.
Moscow’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine has brought a long-debated issue to a head, moving London to introduce a ‘Register of Overseas Entities’ to crack down on money laundering by foreign criminals.
The new register will require anonymous foreign owners of UK property to reveal their real identities and ultimate “beneficial owner”, meaning they can no longer hide behind shell companies as Britain sets “a new global standard for transparency”.
Failure to comply could bring punishment of up to five years in prison.
“There is no place for dirty money in the UK,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“We are going faster and harder to tear back the facade that those supporting (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s campaign of destruction have been hiding behind for so long.
“Those backing Putin have been put on notice: there will be nowhere to hide your ill-gotten gains,” added Johnson, as Home Secretary Priti Patel hailed what she termed “unprecedented action in the face of barbaric Russian aggression”.
Insisting that “time is up for Putin’s cronies hiding dirty money in the UK”, Patel said the legislation would strike a blow against financial crime.