Action urged against SLPs
Blackford calls for halt to Russian money laundering
Ian Blackford: UK government must go further (photo by Terry Murden)
SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford has called on the UK government to impose tougher financial sanctions on Russia.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Blackford reiterated the SNP’s support for a firm and robust response to Russia.
He called on the UK government to go further to make it clear to the Russian authorities that the UK will not tolerate activities that infringe international law.
Seeking a joint meeting of all Westminster party leaders on the matter, the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber has urged Theresa May to clarify what specific action the UK government will now take to tackle Russian money laundering, including the use of Scottish Limited Partnerships (SLPs) to funnel millions of pounds.
SNP MPs have repeatedly called for action on money laundering. In 2016 Ian Blackford was part of a cross-party group of MPs that proposed the introduction of a Magnitsky clause in the UK, while SNP MPs have also been campaigning for action on the issue of SLPs, which do not register for UK tax or provide financial reports if conducting business abroad.
SLPs are said to be a preferred vehicle for directing money out of Russia and its client states. Thousands of SLPs have been set up over recent years with anonymous shareholders, and one SLP registered in Glasgow was used last year to transfer £160 million out of Russia.
Following the Prime Minister’s Statement on Russia in the House of Commons last week, SNP MP Alison Thewliss sought assurances that the UK government would seek to close the loophole that allow SLPs to function in the way they do.
The Prime Minister said the UK government takes money laundering “very seriously”, but the SNP want clarity on what specific and robust action will be taken to put an end to this practice.
Mr Blackford said: “The UK government must impose tougher financial sanctions on Russia. We must make it absolutely clear that the UK will not tolerate activities that infringe international law.
“The SNP welcomed the Prime Minister’s commitment to firm and robust action against the use of terror on our streets, which was echoed by the First Minister of Scotland, however the UK government must now go further on tackling money laundering, introducing effective Magnitsky legislation and tackling the use of Scottish Limited Partnerships (SLPs) by Russia to funnel millions of pounds.
“One SLP registered in Glasgow was used last year to transfer £160 million out of Russia. Yet this is just scratching the surface given it is only one of thousands of SLPs set up over recent years, which need not register for UK tax or provide financial reports if conducting business abroad.
“I have called on the Prime Minster to meet with party leaders in Westminster to work together on this important issue.
“Given Theresa May’s response to the events of the past weeks, I hope she will agree with me that now is the right time to take serious and tough action on this issue – and that any measures the UK government seeks to take against Russia must include actions taken to tackle money laundering activity in the UK.”