The Mayor of London is demanding ministers take sanctioning Russian oligarchs seriously by moving immediately to seize assets that can then be sold to fund aid to Ukraine.
Khan has previously called for property belonging to Russian’s linked to the Kremlin to be seized and now believes this should be extended to possessions like jewellery, designer clothes and cars as well as property.
He says this must be done immediately before oligarchs can conduct a ‘fire sale’ in order to beat slow moving sanctions regimes. He believes there are fears that many of those now facing sanctions will be looking for ways to divulge their properties, businesses and valuables as swiftly as possible.
If seizure were carried out swiftly - as was seen in Marseille when French authorities took control of a superyacht belonging to Rosneft Chief Executive Igor Sechin - then assets could then be sold by the state and the funds used to support aid to Ukraine.
Ministers have made high profile announcements about wide ranging sanctions packages against Russian banks, businesses and individuals operating in London but the Mayor claims far too many loopholes still exist. These include the 30 day ‘wind down period’ for companies to conclude business arrangements before sanctions come into effect and the reports that some sanctions against individuals will take weeks to enforce.
The Mayor is calling for the immediate imposition of all planned sanctions, the publication of a list of the individuals set to be sanctioned and seizure measures to go beyond property and to include high value items such as luxury yachts, cars and art. In order to achieve these aims the Mayor wants to see funding boosted for both the National Crime Agency and the Serious Fraud Office to enable investigators to work effectively against the financial might of the oligarchs.
Khan says: “Nobody expected sanctioning President Putin’s allies in the UK to be straightforward, these are some of the richest and most powerful people in the world. But it is completely unacceptable that ministers are offering them such easy loopholes to disguise or liquidate their assets before the state can act.
“London can no longer be a laundromat for oligarchs’ finances. We know there is at least £1.1bn of property in London linked to the Kremlin, along with millions of pounds worth of art, cars, boats and other goods. Meanwhile, Ukraine calls for aid as the Russian army advances on Kyiv.
“We need the powers and political will to turn the ill-gotten gains of Putin-allies into Ukrainian aid. Ministers must not delay whilst Ukraine burns.”