Britain imposes sanctions on Russians, Saudis over rights

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab speaks during question period at the House of Commons in London, Britain July 1, 2020. UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Britain imposed sanctions on 25 Russians and 20 Saudis on Monday as part of post-Brexit measures foreign minister Dominic Raab said were aimed at stopping the laundering of “blood money”

After leaving the European Union in January, Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to forge a new independent role for Britain in foreign and trade affairs and this was the first time London could impose asset freezes and visa bans independently. 

Raab has pressed for tough sanctions and set out the first names in parliament, including Russian nationals Britain says were involved in the mistreatment and death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and Saudis held to be involved in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Russia said it would respond to the new measures. The Saudi government media office and Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

“If you’re a kleptocrat or an organised criminal, you will not be able to launder your blood money in this country,” Raab told parliament. 

“Today this government…sends a very clear message on behalf of the British people that those with blood on their hands, the thugs and despots, the henchmen and dictators, will not be free to waltz into this country to buy up property on the King’s Road, to do their Christmas shopping in Knightsbridge, or frankly to siphon dirty money through British banks or other financial institutions.” 

Investors from Russia, China and the Middle East have poured billions into London, buying everything from luxury properties to entire companies, but the source of some of the wealth has been questioned by transparency campaigners. 

The biggest Russian name on the list is Alexander Bastrykin, whose Investigative Committee reports directly to President Vladimir Putin.