Richard Benyon Calls for Tougher Sanctions on Russian Criminals

Richard Benyon yesterday raised with the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, the need to deliver improved sanctions on Russia and implement the so-called “Magnitsky amendments”.

During an Urgent Question on the UK’s Russia Policy, Mr Benyon said:

“As someone who has campaigned for some time on the so-called “Magnitsky campaign”, may I say that the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill offers an opportunity for us to have the full Magnitsky, as opposed to Magnitsky-lite which we got last year in another piece of legislation?”

The Magnitsky campaign is named after the lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who tried to expose a massive tax fraud by Russian officials, was imprisoned and beaten to death. The amendments, which have been brought into force by other countries, including the United States, seek to sanction individuals who are linked to organised criminality. Many of these people are Russian and have close links to the Russian Government but are currently able to keep their money and assets in the UK.

Mr Benyon has also been on the Public Bill Committee of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill. He has been working with Bill Browder, Open Russia and other Parliamentarians to raise awareness of this issue as well as working with the Government to introduce such amendments to it.

Speaking in the Bill debate Mr Benyon said:

“International organised crime is more fluid today than ever, with the ability to move money and take advantage of different activities and opportunities. There are two central reasons why those criminals come to the United Kingdom. One is that we have a prosperous economy with good property and intellectual property rights and a large percentage of the world’s financial institutions based here. The other, to be perfectly honest, is that the kinds of people we do not want investing in our economy—the fellow travellers of the criminals, be they lawyers, accountants or other financiers, who are able and willing to work with them—can exploit gaps and make investments in this country.”

During his questioning yesterday, the Foreign Secretary responded saying, “as I have said repeatedly, we will certainly address the issue and we will try to find a way forward that addresses Members’ concerns.”