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U.K. Suspends Visa Program for Super Rich in Crime Crackdown

Rogue Valley

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U.K. Suspends Visa Program for Super Rich in Crime Crackdown

hem_finansin_hem_de_kara_paranin_merkezi_1503229297_7746.jpg


Bloomberg Financial
12/5/18

The U.K. is suspending its investor visas for the rich, closing a route to permanent residence and British citizenship that’s popular with Russian oligarchs and wealthy Chinese. The program will be suspended from midnight on Friday ahead of reforms designed to tackle money laundering and organized crime, according to a Home Office statement. They require applicants to provide audits of their financial and business interests and exclude government bonds as a qualifying investment. The freeze will lift once the changes, due in 2019, have been put in place. The suspension comes after relations between the U.K. and Russia sunk to their lowest ebb since the Cold War following the poisoning of a former Russian double-agent and his daughter in March. Prime Minister Theresa May retaliated against the attack, which left one civilian dead, by expelling dozens of suspected spies. Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich was among those caught up in the tension -- the British government failed to renew his visa and he has since received Israeli citizenship. May said earlier this year that the government was reviewing the program after Labour Party lawmaker Yvette Cooper questioned the origin of money from 700 Russians who have been granted the visas. The number of applicants fell sharply in 2015 after the government introduced new anti-money laundering due diligence checks and doubled the minimum investment for the permit to 2 million pounds ($2.6 million).

The U.K.’s move could hamper people worldwide, but Russian oligarchs may be most affected by the changes. The U.K. has long been a particularly appealing jurisdiction for ultra-rich Russians as a safe and stable place to do business, hold their wealth and educate their children, so much so that the city has been nicknamed Londongrad. But the suspension is the latest sign that such appeal may be fading after the government crackdown in the wake of the poisoning on British soil. “We will not tolerate people who do not play by the rules and seek to abuse the system,” Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said in the statement. The new measures “will make sure that only genuine investors, who intend to support U.K. businesses, can benefit from our immigration system.”

It's a start. London has become the favorite location for wealthy Russian oligarchs, crime figures, and government officials to launder their ill-gotten gains through real-estate transactions.

On a related note, Moscow has secretly threatened Cyprus after that EU nation announced new anti-laundering/shell company legislation aimed at battling Russian financial fraud.

Forbes | Has Cyprus Sided With The West, Leaving Russia Out In The Cold?
 

Litwin

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U.K. Suspends Visa Program for Super Rich in Crime Crackdown

hem_finansin_hem_de_kara_paranin_merkezi_1503229297_7746.jpg




It's a start. London has become the favorite location for wealthy Russian oligarchs, crime figures, and government officials to launder their ill-gotten gains through real-estate transactions.

On a related note, Moscow has secretly threatened Cyprus after that EU nation announced new anti-laundering/shell company legislation aimed at battling Russian financial fraud.

Forbes | Has Cyprus Sided With The West, Leaving Russia Out In The Cold?

if Muscovite oligarchs want to live save live in Europe , they have to choose or Europe or putler´s ozero cooperative
 

Skeptic Bob

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I understand wanting to combat the corruption, but is it a net benefit to stop all the other wealthy individuals who would immigrate to and invest in the country?
 

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I understand wanting to combat the corruption, but is it a net benefit to stop all the other wealthy individuals who would immigrate to and invest in the country?
Leaving Russian thugs aside, the move is aimed at anyone with "shady" money.
 

Skeptic Bob

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Leaving Russian thugs aside, the move is aimed at anyone with "shady" money.

I would think they could just add the requirement that the visa applicant must also be able to prove the legitimate origin of the money. Just make it part of the application process for this type of visa.
 

Chagos

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I would think they could just add the requirement that the visa applicant must also be able to prove the legitimate origin of the money. Just make it part of the application process for this type of visa.
That's basically what this is about.

From the article linked to in the OP:
They require applicants to provide audits of their financial and business interests
"The lift" is a provisory measure designed to suspend current practice until new regulations are passed next year.
 

Skeptic Bob

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That's basically what this is about.

From the article linked to in the OP: "The lift" is a provisory measure designed to suspend current practice until new regulations are passed next year.

That makes sense. If they didn’t do the temp ban then all the crooks would try to get their applications done before the news rules took effect.
 

Chagos

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That makes sense. If they didn’t do the temp ban then all the crooks would try to get their applications done before the news rules took effect.
Yes, it's a measure of not going Maltese any longer.

Where (Malta) you can even buy citizenship if you bring enough cash along. And not just Maltese but EU as well, by default.
 

Rogue Valley

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It’s time the UK cracked down on dirty Russian money

12/17/18
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine continues to mount. Last month, Russian authorities illegally apprehended three Ukrainian Navy ships and 24 sailors near the Sea of Azov. They are still being held. Just this week, commercially available satellite imagery revealed a massive Russian military build-up only few miles from the Ukrainian border. Each new act of Russian aggression raises the question: How best to respond? Following the naval interdiction near the Sea of Azov, I called for beefing up NATO’s presence in the Black Sea and boosting Ukraine’s maritime capabilities with high-tech radars and anti-ship missiles. In Europe, the talk has focused on extending and increasing economic sanctions against Moscow. Both options can be part of a larger strategy to support Ukraine and confront Russian aggression. However, neither approach will work absent unity in the West. Surprisingly, one area where the West has not come to agreement is how to deal with dirty Russian money slushing around the United Kingdom. So far, the UK has come up well short of clamping down on dirty money. Despite dozens of economic sanctions from the United States and EU, Russian oligarchs with dodgy connections to London have been able to exploit legal loopholes and the puzzling complacency of British authorities. It is time for Congress and the Trump administration to let London know, in no uncertain terms, that this is unacceptable.

Since the poisoning last summer of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England, political leaders in the UK have talked a lot about cracking down on dirty Russian money in London. However, very little has been done. Frankly, the UK should consider the presence of dirty Russian money as national security issue. As that recent Foreign Affairs Committee report noted: “The assets stored and laundered in London both directly and indirectly support President Putin’s campaign to subvert the international rules-based system, undermine our allies, and erode the mutually-reinforcing international networks that support UK foreign policy.” The size of London’s financial markets and their importance to Russian investors give the UK considerable leverage over the Kremlin. It is time to use it. Until the UK gets tough, Russia will continue to take advantage of the situation, with damaging effects on the UK, the US and the transatlantic community. Now is the time to act. Washington should use the privileges offered by the US-UK Special Relationship to have a frank and open conversation with their British counterparts about Russian money. At the very least, there should also be closer consultation between British authorities and the U.S. Treasury and intelligence agencies to avoid a repeat of an EN+ Group-like listing on the London Stock Exchange. After all, friends do not let friends swim in dirty Russian money.

It's beyond time. Remove Russian corruption from the West.

Related: Moscow's Gold: Russian Corruption in the UK
 

Rogue Valley

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Azerbaijan leader's daughters tried to buy £60m London home with offshore funds

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Leyla Aliyeva, left, and Arzu Aliyeva, daughters of the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev.

12/21/18
The daughters of Azerbaijan’s president agreed to buy a £60m London property using a secret offshore company, in a case potentially carrying “a significant risk of money laundering”, a tribunal has heard. Leyla and Arzu Aliyeva sought to purchase two luxury Knightsbridge flats for £59.5m, including £3m to convert them into a single home. The deal in 2015 was intended to be the latest addition to a multi-million pound property portfolio in Britain acquired by president Ilham Aliyev’s family. Leyla Aliyeva initiated the purchase at the same time as her divorce from Emin Agalarov, an Azerbaijani businessman and pop star. Aglarov’s father Aras, a Moscow-based property developer, hosted Donald Trump on his 2013 visit to Russia for the Miss Universe beauty pageant. Details emerged in a disciplinary tribunal into the solicitor who carried out the transaction, Khalid Sharif. Sharif – a senior partner with the London firm Child & Child – admitted failing to carry out money-laundering checks and breaching his professional code. The women – who have cultivated high profiles inside and outside their home country – should have been classified as politically exposed persons or ‘PEPs’. This status triggers extensive banking checks.

UK lawyers, real-estate agents, and bankers who facilitate money laundering without due diligence should have their professional credentials revoked.
 
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