Skip to main content

Tackling Illicit Finance

Volume 710: debated on Tuesday 15 March 2022

We continue to review and reform our regulatory and enforcement approach to ensure that, as illicit finance evolves, our responses do too. We have announced an unprecedented package of sanctions, including against prominent Russian oligarchs. Last night, we brought forward the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 to crack down further, and we will continue to do further work on the economic crime Bill in the next session. We have also brought a new kleptocracy cell into the National Crime Agency to tackle those explicit threats.

But it took a group of anarchists to seize Deripaska’s London mansion yesterday, so when will the Minister do what Europe and America have already done and seize rather than just freeze Putin’s cronies’ assets? When will he close the loopholes that still allow them to escape sanction by putting their assets in their family members’ names or using shell companies based in British overseas territories?

The Government have worked closely with the US and the EU on a whole range of interventions. We have sanctioned 500 individuals and entities, including 386 members of the Russian state Duma. We have also worked with the US on the expulsion of banks from the SWIFT banking system, cut off 3 million Russian companies from capital markets and seen $250 billion wiped of Russian stocks. We will continue to work closely with our allies to ensure that our response continues to be comprehensive.

The Government have once again delayed the long-overdue reforms to Companies House that could have deterred illicit finance, prevented covid fraud and provided vital information to the authorities. I will ask the Minister an important question, and I want him to update the House accurately. How many Russian-linked individuals and businesses have been wrongly given Treasury-backed covid-related business support?

We worked to give widespread support to lots of individuals across the economy. I cannot give the hon. Lady the exact chapter and verse on individuals who have been supported, but we will continue to work on Companies House reform, which will be the most significant reform of the companies register in 170 years, and later this year we will publish a second economic crime plan and fraud action plan to address the threats that we continue to see.