The UK has sanctioned 22 people involved in a series of notorious corruption cases, the foreign secretary Dominic Raab has announced.

Individuals across Russia, Latin America , South Africa and Saudi Arabia have been hit with travel bans and had their assets frozen.

The moves are part of the first wave of sanctions under a new global anti-corruption regime, and have been applied partly in tandem with measures in the US.

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

Mr Raab said the sanctions target those involved “in some of the most notorious corruption cases around the world”.

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He acknowledged to MPs that the UK can be a “honey pot” for those looking to launder dirty money.

But he said the new regime would be “an additional powerful tool” to hold corrupt individuals to account.

“It will prevent corrupt actors from using the UK as a haven for dirty money, while combatting corruption around the world,” he told the Commons.

Labour broadly welcomed the announcement, but warned the prosecution rate of economic crime was “woefully low”.

Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy told Mr Raab: “If he’s serious about what he’s saying today he needs to put his money where his mouth is.”

She also criticised a “tangled network of financial interests and cosy relationships in the heart of government”, as she quoted recent messages exchanged between Boris Johnson and Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

A Honduran congressman accused of facilitating bribes to support drug trafficking was among those targeted.

Others included a member of Nicaragua’s Sandinista party linked to misappropriation of public funds.

Duncan Hames, from Transparency International UK, said the new regime was not a “silver bullet for tackling the UK’s role as a safe haven for the corrupt”.

But he added that 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.”

US secretary of state Antony Blinken welcomed the moves, saying: “The United States commends the United Kingdom on the establishment of a global anti-corruption sanctions regime, which reinforces the US-UK partnership in the fight against corruption and illicit finance.

“Corruption undermines the rule of law, weakens citizens’ trust in their governments, hampers economic growth, and facilitates transnational crime and human rights abuses.”



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