Press release 21st Jul 2020

Russia Report urges swift action to tackle UK’s role as a ‘laundromat’ for dirty money and reputations

21 July 2020, London - The ‘Russia Report’ published today by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee highlights the urgent need to address the UK’s role as a money and reputation laundering hub for wealthy individuals linked to Vladimir Putin.

The report demonstrates how the UK as a whole has accepted money from Russia without asking questions about its provenance. Research conducted by Transparency International UK has identified more than £5 billion worth of property bought with suspicious wealth, one fifth of this originates from Russia. 

The UK’s role as a hub for suspect wealth has major national security implications with the report stating “it is widely recognised that Russian intelligence and business are completely intertwined.” However the National Crime Agency is identified as being critically underfunded to counter this threat.

Duncan Hames, Director of Policy at Transparency International UK, said:

“This report confirms Britain’s ongoing role as a ‘laundromat’ for dirty money and reputations and has major national security implications. Action needs to be taken urgently to root out illicit wealth and nefarious influence.

The National Crime Agency should be properly resourced with the funds and powers to counter the threat posed by powerful individuals with suspicious wealth and links to hostile states. Those in the private sector should fulfil their duty as the first line of defence against dirty money, with firm penalties for those that fail to do this.

“Finally, parliamentary oversight and transparency should be strengthened to prevent MPs and peers from becoming unwitting agents of hostile states. Adopting these measures would ensure that Britain is more resilient in the face of hostile state action, making both our democracy and economy more secure.”

The report also cites the role of lawyers, accountants, estate agents and PR professionals in enabling individuals linked to Putin to launder their money and reputations in the UK, building business empires as well as networks of influence. Research by Transparency International UK identified 582 firms and individuals offering a variety of services in the UK to those with suspicious wealth.

Concerns are also raised around the political influence enjoyed by those close to Putin with the report noting “a number of Members of the House of Lords have business interests linked to Russia.” Research by Transparency International UK has highlighted efforts by the Russian state to legitimise itself through interaction with UK Parliamentarians.