Labor calls on Tories to return Russia-linked donor money | Russia
Labor has called on the Tories to return money from donors with links to Russia in response to tensions over Vladimir Putin’s military buildup on the Ukrainian border.
In a joint letter, David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, and Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, called on ministers to tackle Russian financial flows to the UK.
Writing to their counterparts, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, two possible contenders to succeed Boris Johnson in Number 10, Lammy and Reeves said: “Donors who have made money in Russia or who have suspected links to the Putin’s regime have given £1.93million to the Conservative Party or individual Conservative associations since Boris Johnson took office in July 2019. Will the Conservative Party agree to give it back?
Truss said oligarchs and key Putin supporters would be targeted by British sanctions if Russia invaded Ukraine, but offered no new curbs on money laundering.
The Foreign Ministry has threatened to seize wealth from Putin’s internal political circle and backers.
Labor criticized the package for failing to speed up long-promised structural measures to tackle money laundering in the UK, including measures first announced by David Cameron in 2014 and 2015.
In their joint letter, Lammy and Reeves said: ‘However, we believe there is much more that can be done to address the UK’s openness to suspecting Russian money.
“For years Labor has been sounding the alarm over the role of dirty money in the UK and the Conservative government’s inaction. Despite repeated warnings, the government fell asleep at the wheel and unnecessarily let down our defenses at home.
They said “openness to illicit finance has begun to undermine our diplomatic efforts, with the Biden administration warned that the widespread presence of suspicious Russian money in the UK could jeopardize Britain’s response to this crisis.
Johnson said last week he would introduce an Economic Crime Bill in the Third Session of Parliament, but the Labor Party said it should have happened by now.
In particular, they called for reform of Companies House to prevent fraud and abuse, a register of foreign entities, registration of foreign agents, new counterintelligence laws, replacement of the Computer Misuse Act and additional powers for the Electoral Commission.
“We cannot resist Russian aggression abroad while ignoring Russia-related corruption at home,” they said. “It is in our national and economic interest that the government meet the challenges of hostile influence and interference that government inaction and behavior have unfortunately allowed.”
The Guardian reported last week that anti-corruption campaigners accused the government of failing to reduce Russian wealth and influence in Britain, despite years of provocative actions by the Kremlin.
In response to Lammy and Reeves’ letter, a spokesman for the Conservative Party said: “The Conservative Party only accepts donations from authorized sources, i.e. people on the UK electoral roll or companies registered in the UK.
“Donations are reported transparently to the Electoral Commission and published openly by it.”