Government U-Turn As Russian Oligarchs Given Less Time To Declare UK Properties

But Labour warns the "vague" plans will give them "a head start" in getting their money out of the country.
Labour leader Keir Starmer called on the government to slash the 18-month grace period.
Labour leader Keir Starmer called on the government to slash the 18-month grace period.
UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor via PA Media

Russian oligarchs will have less time to dodge declaring what properties they own in the UK, amid pressure on the government to crackdown on Vladimir Putin’s allies.

On Monday the Commons is set to debate and pass the economic crime bill, which is designed to force overseas nationals to disclose assets they own in the UK.

Boris Johnson told MPs on Wednesday it would “whip aside the veil of anonymity” enjoyed by wealthy foreign.

But the government’s initial proposals would have given those who already own property in Britain an 18-month grace period before having to register them.

Speaking during PMQs on Wednesday, Keir Starmer said Labour would support the bill when it came to a vote, but demanded it be strengthened following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Why are we giving Putin’s cronies 18 months to quietly launder their money out of the UK property market and into another safe haven?” he said.

It is understood the government will now reduce the grace-period, although it remains unclear by how much.

Downing Street said it would not speculate on changes to the legislation, but said it did not want to “disproportionately impact legitimate businesses who do follow the law”.

Jonathan Reynolds, Labour’s shadow business secretary, said the government’s “vague” promise was not enough.

“It must back Labour’s proposal to tighten the net on Putin’s cronies now by shortening the grace period to 28 days,” he said.

“We cannot give oligarchs a head start - dirty Russian money must be taken out of the UK in days, not months.

“The government must side with Labour to protect our security and show solidarity with the people of Ukraine by taking the action needed to send a clear, united message – Putin backed oligarchs are not welcome in our economy.”

Johnson has also said he would produce a list of all those who have assets that are related to the Putin regime.

But No.10 has not said when this would be produced and the government is facing calls to immediately seize oligarchs’ assets, such as luxury yachts and homes.

French authorities have said they seized a yacht linked to Igor Sechin, an ally of Putin who runs oil giant Rosneft, under EU sanctions. It was also reported Germany had seized another mega-yacht.

But in the UK questions continue over why billionaires such as Roman Abramovich, who has announced he will sell Chelsea FC, have not yet been hit with sanctions.


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