The UK Criminal Finances Bill

February 22, 2017

For all the many faults the UK has, when it comes to creating statute it generally does so rather well.

The 21st February witnessed yet another fairly well crafted Bill pass through The House and make its way to The Lords – The Criminal Finances Bill.

For those that click on the link above, the full text as expected, is a read that for some will become tedious due to its length rather than its content – though few will have issue with the spirit with which it was crafted no matter how wearisome that read may be.

Naturally parallels will be drawn to the US Magnitsky Act – perhaps unfairly for the UK Bill appears to be more than a UK equivalent.  There is also an issue with such framing in that it directs attention toward Russia and the kleptocrats therein and reduces the wider nature of the Bill.

If the (UK) law is to see all equal before it (and importantly all of their UK assets) then it will not only be Russians that are immediately subjected to new legal scrutiny by the UK – there are a reasonable number of Ukrainians (and others) that could and should fall foul of this new legislation.

Security Minister Ben Wallace stated: “We need to make the UK a hostile environment for those seeking to move, hide and use the proceeds of crime and corruption. In an increasingly competitive international marketplace, the UK simply cannot afford to be seen as a haven for dirty money.” – A statement that glosses over the fact that there was already a significant body of legislation that if actually proactively applied would have already given the UK such a reputation long ago – but didn’t because it wasn’t.

Indeed it can be argued fairly convincingly that corporate entities and/or law facilitates as much corruption for foreign owners as do the UK banks.  In short both UK system and UK processes have been ravaged by the unscrupulous and criminal on a large scale and in equal measure.

No matter how good the legislation, statute of this nature will rely upon its proactive enforcement to be most effective – and that would see a reasonable number of (prominent) Ukrainians rightly treated no differently to the Russians around which the media will concentrate.

Thus whilst all wait to see which Russians will feel the weight of this statute, t’will be interesting to see, once the Bill becomes law, which Ukrainians fall foul of this new legislation – and which (somehow) do not.

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