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World Britain Hints at Tougher Blow Against Russia: Stripping Tycoons’ Assets

05:15  16 march  2018
05:15  16 march  2018 Source:   nytimes.com

Russia slams ex-spy poisoning allegations as 'propaganda

  Russia slams ex-spy poisoning allegations as 'propaganda Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday dismissed as "propaganda" accusations that Moscow was behind a nerve agent attack on a former double agent residing in Britain. British media and politicians have said the attack on Sergei Skripal, who came to Britain in a spy swap in 2010, bears the hallmarks of a Russian operation."They're levelling accusations against us for everything that goes wrong -- according to our western partners -- on this very planet," Lavrov said during a visit to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa."This is propaganda fair and square and it is trying to raise tension.

LONDON — As she probes for Russia ’s vulnerabilities during a week of deepening crisis, Prime Minister Theresa May does not have to look far. Within a few blocks of No. 10 Downing Street, she could find opulent homes owned by members of President Vladimir V. Putin’s inner circle.

For Russians , part of Britain ’s draw was its offer of legal shelter; it refuses extradition requests from Russia . British institutions, meanwhile, have been lenient with wealthy foreign buyers, skimming through due diligence procedures intended to determine the source of a buyer’s funds, said Ian Bond

a man driving a car: Prime Minister Theresa May in Salisbury, England, on Thursday. © Jack Taylor/Getty Images Prime Minister Theresa May in Salisbury, England, on Thursday.

LONDON — As she probes for Russia’s vulnerabilities during a week of deepening crisis, Prime Minister Theresa May does not have to look far. Within a few blocks of No. 10 Downing Street, she could find opulent homes owned by members of President Vladimir V. Putin’s inner circle.

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A short walk from Mrs. May’s office is an apartment registered to a company owned by First Deputy Prime Minister Igor I. Shuvalov, with a value estimated at $16 million. Roman Abramovich, a former member of the Russian Parliament and a longtime Putin associate, lives opposite Kensington Palace, in a house whose value has been estimated at $163 million.

UK's May says "highly likely" Russia behind nerve attack on spy

  UK's May says British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday it was "highly likely" that Moscow was responsible for the poisoning in England of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter using a military-grade nerve agent.Either the Russian state was directly responsible for the poisoning or it had allowed the poison, which belonged the Novichok group of nerve agents, to get into the hands of others, May told Britain's parliament.

“If you start to take away Astons and Bentleys and huge apartments in Kensington, freezing those assets , people will care a lot more.”. CLIFF KUPCHAN, the chairman of the consulting firm Eurasia Group

Russians waiting at the Russian Embassy in London to cast their votes in the presidential election this month. The British government said this week it would review the cases of 700 Russians who were granted visas to live Britain Hints at Tougher Blow Against Russia : Stripping Tycoons ’ Assets .

The rupture between Russia and the United Kingdom deepened on Thursday, eleven days after a former Russian spy was poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent in a sleepy town in southwest England.

In a rare joint statement, the United States, Germany and France condemned the attack, calling it the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since World War II. And in Washington, the Trump administration announced new sanctions against 19 people and five organizations implicated in cyberattacks.

In Britain, meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson hinted that Putin associates in the United Kingdom might be targeted in an anti-corruption drive. That prospect, though still remote, is a significant threat to the tight circle of officials and businessmen around Mr. Putin.

Trump says will talk to UK's May, will condemn Russia 'if we agree'

  Trump says will talk to UK's May, will condemn Russia 'if we agree' U.S. President Donald Trump said the United States still needed to sort out the facts behind the nerve agent attack in Salisbury.Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House, acknowledged that British authorities have accused Russia in the attack on the former Russian double agent who passed secrets to British intelligence, but said he still needed to talk to May before rendering a judgment.

Britain Hints at Tougher Blow Against Russia : Stripping Tycoons ’ Assets . By Ellen Barry. Unilever to Make the Netherlands Its Sole Headquarters, in Blow to Britain . By Chad Bray.

A person close to the Russian oligarch said that his investor visa — initially valid for three years and four months and normally extended with ease after that every two years — expired at the end of April and that an Britain Hints at Tougher Blow Against Russia : Stripping Tycoons ’ Assets .

“If you start to take away Astons and Bentleys and huge apartments in Kensington, freezing those assets, people will care a lot more,” said Cliff Kupchan, chairman of Eurasia Group, a consulting firm, adding that the pressure would be conveyed to Mr. Putin.

“These people are loyal,” Mr. Kupchan said. “Can they get him to do a 360? No. But is there some dual directionality, going up and going down, the elite to the president? Yes.”

Wealthy Russians began shifting their money into Britain in the mid-1990s, snapping up properties through anonymous companies registered in overseas territories like the British Virgin Islands. A 2015 study by Deutsche Bank, based on figures from the Russian Central Bank and the Bank of England, suggested that since 2006, around $129 billion had flowed into Britain through secret offshore transactions, much of it from Russia.

As capital migrated, the subculture known as Londongrad grew in size and influence. In 2003, Mr. Abramovich bought the iconic Chelsea Football Club. In 2009, Alexander Lebedev, a former K.G.B. officer, and his son, Yevgeny, bought a controlling share in The Evening Standard, one of London’s oldest daily newspapers. In recent years, Russian expatriates have begun to build networks in British politics, making large donations to the Conservative Party.

UK readies response to Russia after spy deadline passes

  UK readies response to Russia after spy deadline passes Moscow ignored a midnight deadline to explain how a nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union was used against a former spy in England.Theresa May is set to announce a range of economic and diplomatic measures against Russia in response to the assault on Sergei and Yulia Skripal. The father and daughter remain in critical condition in a hospital in Salisbury, southwestern England.

But diplomatic relations between Britain and Russia plummeted after the Skripal poisonings, which Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said had probably been personally ordered by Mr. Putin. Britain Hints at Tougher Blow Against Russia : Stripping Tycoons ’ Assets .

Britain Hints at Tougher Blow Against Russia : Stripping Tycoons ’ Assets . Prime Minister Theresa May in Salisbury, England, on Thursday. Russia -Ukraine Ties Sour Further as Moscow Imposes Sanctions. A priest conducts a prayer for peace at the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra monastery.

Though Mr. Putin has condemned capital flight as unpatriotic, he tolerates it in his inner circle, Mr. Kupchan said.

“Putin wants repatriation, but the social contract is that if you show loyalty, you can live the way you want,” he said.

For Russians, part of Britain’s draw was its offer of legal shelter; it refuses extradition requests from Russia. British institutions, meanwhile, have been lenient with wealthy foreign buyers, skimming through due diligence procedures intended to determine the source of a buyer’s funds, said Ian Bond, director of foreign policy at the Center for European Reform.

“This has been a very weak part of our money-laundering system,” Mr. Bond said. “Not enough questions are being asked about overseas shell properties. Estate agents are not asking the right questions — or any questions — about the beneficial owners.”

The government has promised this will change.

On Wednesday, under pressure to display a tough response to the poisoning of the former spy, Sergei V. Skripal, Mrs. May promised to “freeze Russian state assets wherever we have the evidence that they may be used to threaten the life or property of U.K. nationals or residents.” She went on to say that investigators will crack down on “serious criminals and corrupt elites.”

Trump Administration Sanctions Russians for Election Meddling and Cyberattacks

  Trump Administration Sanctions Russians for Election Meddling and Cyberattacks The actions came at the same time the Trump administration joined a collective statement with Britain, France and Germany denouncing Russia for its apparent role in a nerve-gas attack.WASHINGTON — President Trump’s administration imposed sanctions on a series of Russian organizations and individuals on Thursday in retaliation for interference in the 2016 presidential elections and other “malicious” cyberattacks. It was the most significant action taken against Moscow since Mr. Trump took office.

shuvalov igor i. Britain Hints at Tougher Blow Against Russia : Stripping Tycoons ’ Assets . Prime Minister Theresa May in Salisbury, England, on Thursday.

works has gotten much wider. cc @melissaaten Britain Hints at Tougher Blow Against Russia : Stripping Tycoons ’ Assetshttps://nyti.ms/2DvWIMJ. And also be sure to see @ThinkDemocracy @melissaaten's Big Question on the link between kleptocracy and Russia 's foreign policy: https

“There is no place for these people — or their money — in our country,” she said.

Mrs. May has several tools available to challenge the legitimacy of Russian holdings. Just six weeks ago, Britain rolled out a new campaign to stem the flow of dirty money into its real estate sector, presenting an unnamed political figure, reportedly from Central Asia, with the first-ever “unexplained wealth order.” The order requires the target to present a court with evidence that the property was purchased with legal funds. If that fails, the state can seize the asset.

Unexplained wealth orders could most easily be used against government officials, whose incomes are clearly insufficient for them to purchase billion-pound London properties, said Ben Cowdock, a researcher at Transparency International. The orders would be difficult to use against wealthy businessmen with multiple income streams, he said.

Mrs. May also promised on Wednesday to introduce legislation similar to the Magnitsky Act in the United States. That act allows American officials to deny visas to Russians implicated in human rights violations and freeze their assets. In 2012, when Congress passed its legislation, the British government chose not to follow suit, arguing that it had sufficient sanction powers.

Russian denials of British attack 'increasingly absurd': Johnson

  Russian denials of British attack 'increasingly absurd': Johnson Russia is wrong to deny responsibility for a nerve agent attack on a former Russian double agent on British soil on March 4, Britain's foreign minister said on Monday.BRUSSELS, March 19 (Reuters) - Britain's foreign minister stepped up London's criticism of Moscow on Monday over a nerve agent attack on a former Russian double agent in England, calling Russian denials of responsibility "increasingly absurd.

The Trump administration accused Russia on Thursday of engineering a series of cyberattacks that targeted American and European nuclear power plants and water and electric systems, and could have sabotaged or shut Britain Hints at Tougher Blow Against Russia : Stripping Tycoons ’ Assets .

Foreign secretary says he has noted that harder US sanctions have had marked effect.

Mrs. May said she was also ready to freeze Russian state-owned property that had been used in attacks on British soil, a category potentially broad enough to include Aeroflot planes that carried assailants to Britain, Mr. Bond said.

“It is intended to say, ‘We will go after anything that isn’t nailed down,’” he said.

One concern for Britain is whether the measures would jeopardize British business interests in Russia — in particular, its flagship oil producer, BP, which owns a 20 percent stake in Rosneft, the Russian oil and gas giant.

Anti-Putin activists and investigative journalists here have long urged a crackdown on oligarchs’ lavish holdings, whose ownership is often concealed by layers of offshore transactions. Mark Hollingsworth, co-author of “Londongrad: From Russia With Cash,” has spent years compiling a database of thousands of properties by cross-referencing public records and prowling neighborhoods popular with wealthy Russians.

“They love the area near Harrods, they love Eaton Square, Belgrave Square,” he said. “Of course, they don’t live there. It’s all about parking their money, and acceptance and reputation. Being accepted by the British establishment.”

Mr. Hollingsworth said an aggressive campaign of asset seizures could serve as “a warning shot against Russian billionaires who have made their money in dubious circumstances,” stripping them of their sense of security.

“If they target the right ones and shut them down, they’ll lose a fair amount of money,” he said. “If that happens, Londongrad probably no longer exists.”

But Roman Borisovich, an anti-Putin campaigner who organizes a “klepto-tour” of mansions and penthouses owned by people close to the Kremlin, said Mrs. May’s speech on Wednesday suggested she was not ready to press forward with asset seizures.

“Now all the arsenal of weaponry is available to the government,” he said. “The prime minister can use any tools, but she didn’t use them.”

Trump Said to Plan Expulsion of Russian Envoys Over U.K. Attack .
<p>President Trump is preparing to expel dozens of Russian diplomats from the U.S. in response to the nerve-agent poisoning of a former Russian spy in the U.K., two sources said.</p>Trump agreed with the recommendation of advisers and the expulsions are likely to be announced on Monday, the people said, though they cautioned that Trump’s decision may not be final. Trump is prepared to act but wants to be sure European allies will take similar steps against Russia before doing so, aides said.

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