The UK is a “honey pot” for “corrupt actors” who “seek to launder their dirty money”, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said today.

The Foreign Secretary made the remarks in the Commons while announcing sanctions on 22 people involved in corruption cases in Russia, South Africa, South Sudan and Latin America.

They were targeted with asset freezes and travel bans, in the first wave of sanctions under the government’s new global anti-corruption regime.

Fourteen of those hit with sanctions were involved in one of the largest tax frauds in recent Russian history, as exposed by the late lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

“Whatever the particular circumstances, at the heart of this lies the same debilitating cycle of behaviour – corrupt officials ripping off their own people,” he said.

“These powers will also enable us to target those who are either facilitating or profiting from such corrupt acts. Those who conceal, those who transfer the proceeds of serious corruption and those who obstruct justice relating to serious corruption – and that won’t be limited to state officials.”

Those targeted for sanctions will have their assets frozen and face travel bans
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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He continued: “We will also ensure, and I think it is right to say we will ensure, due process in the rule of law so that the rights of others are respected.

“So those designated will be able to request that a minister reviews the decision and they can also apply to challenge the decision in court which I think is an important check in the system.”

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He told the MPs: “Whatever the particular circumstances, at the heart of this lies the same debilitating cycle of behaviour – corrupt officials ripping off their own people.

“These powers will also enable us to target those who are either facilitating or profiting from such corrupt acts. Those who conceal, those who transfer the proceeds of serious corruption and those who obstruct justice relating to serious corruption – and that won’t be limited to state officials.”

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He continued: “We will also ensure, and I think it is right to say we will ensure, due process in the rule of law so that the rights of others are respected.

“So those designated will be able to request that a minister reviews the decision and they can also apply to challenge the decision in court which I think is an important check in the system.”

Responding to the announcement, Duncan Hames, Director of Policy at Transparency International UK, said: “Corruption is a global problem that needs global action, so we welcome the UK Government’s new sanctions regime that will enable it to act in concert with its allies in the US and Canada. With adequate resourcing, strategic deployment and some refinement, these new capabilities should provide a useful addition to the UK’s toolkit for tackling kleptocracy. Now it’s time to put these powers to good use in practice.

“Whilst this regime is by no means a silver bullet for tackling the UK’s role as a safe haven for the corrupt, it is a very positive development. The use of these powers should send a firm message to corrupt individuals and their enablers who have enjoyed the freedom to travel to and invest in the UK, that they will no longer be welcome here.”



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