Economic Crime Bill
Economic Crime Bill

Thank you for contacting me about the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill. Especially in light of the implications this Bill will make regarding the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.  It is absolutely vital that we stand firmly against this act of aggression and show Putin that these actions will be challenged.  

Myself and Labour stand resolute in our support of Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity. Only the people of Ukraine have the democratic right to determine their own political destiny and they have clearly spoken in favour of a democratic future.

The influence of corrupt Russian money must end in UK.  Despite warning after warning, the Government has failed to act, leaving Britain as the destination of choice for oligarchs to hide the wealth they have stolen from the Russian people.

I agree with you on this important issue. Our country is respected across the world as a prime financial destination, but sadly it has also become the location of choice for Russia’s kleptocrats. Transparency International research has shown that UK property worth £1.5 billion has been bought since 2016 by Russians accused of corruption or links to the Kremlin.

I therefore welcomed the decision to bring forward legislation to set up a register of overseas entities holding UK property and land and their beneficial owners. Indeed, I believe this was long overdue and I have supported calls for these measures for years. The Government first promised a register of overseas ownership in 2016 and draft legislation has been in the public domain for this since 2018. It is deeply frustrating that the Government has dragged its feet on stopping dirty money flowing through our economy and that it took Russia’s invasion of Ukraine before it finally acted.

Given how long this legislation has already been delayed, I share your concern at the length of the transitional period in the Bill before any foreign entity needs to apply to join the register. By initially including an 18-month transition period, this legislation offered no immediate deterrent and gave oligarchs a window to escape sanctions. I believe the obligation to register needs to come into effect within weeks, not years. That is why I supported amendments that would have tightened the net on Putin’s cronies now by shortening the grace period to 28 days.

As you may know, following this pressure, the Government reduced the size of this window to six months when the Bill came before the House of Commons. In the House of Lords, it then further amended the Bill to require overseas entities to declare their beneficial ownership if they sell their property within the transition period, which it said would stop owners avoiding transparency by disposing of assets.

I welcome these concessions, which provide a step forward in addressing concerns on this issue. However, I do not believe they fully resolve these concerns. I can therefore assure you that I will continue to support efforts to press the Government on this issue when a promised further Economic Crime Bill is introduced in the next parliamentary session.

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