British MPs demand end to Russian 'dirty money' after spy poisoning

By Sara Shayanian  |  May 21, 2018 at 9:54 AM
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May 21 (UPI) -- A powerful group of MPs is demanding an end to Russian money flowing into Britain, claiming it puts national security at risk.

In a report released Monday, British MPs say the government must show stronger political leadership to held end the flow of Russia's "dirty money" into the country.

Citing the nerve agent attack on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripala and his daughter Yulia in March, the report claims Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies have been able to continue "business as usual" by hiding their assets in London. The report says the government failed to follow through on Prime Minister Theresa May's "robust rhetoric" in the wake of the attack.

"These assets, on which the Kremlin can call at any time, both directly and indirectly support President Putin's campaign to subvert the international rules-based system, undermine our allies, and erode the mutually reinforcing international networks that support UK foreign policy," the report said.

The Skripal case set off international controversy, with Britain, the United States and other Western nations blaming the Kremlin -- and specifically Putin -- for ordering the attack. Russia has denied responsibility.

The row seriously inflamed tensions and led to the expulsions of numerous diplomats from Russia, Britain and the United States. U.S. officials also closed the Russian Consulate in Seattle.

The MPs recommended Monday the sanctioning of more Kremlin-connected individuals to help "counter Russian state aggression."

"Turning a blind eye to London's role in hiding the proceeds of Kremlin-connected corruption risks signaling that the U.K. is not serious about confronting the full spectrum of President Putin's offensive measures," the report said.

Just two days after the British government announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats from London, Russia raised $4 billion in bond sales -- with nearly half the profits coming from British investors.

Following the sale, the Russian Embassy in Britain tweeted "Business as usual?"

"The ease with which the Russian government was able to raise funds in London despite the strong measures that the government took in the wake of the Salisbury attack raises serious questions about the government's commitment to combating Russian state aggression," the report added.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the British report "nothing other than the latest step in line with unfriendly, unfair competition."

Peskov added that the report was evidence of Britain's "unprecedented Russia-hating mania" following the Skripal poisoning.

"You can see for yourself that the tidal wave of hate against Russia does not stem from any events regarding Great Britain and its citizens, but it was triggered by a provocation staged by the U.K. -- I mean the so-called Skripal case," the spokesman said.

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