X Close

Britain’s oligarchs are stuck in limbo Should we spend their frozen assets on Ukraine?

Debutantes attend the Russian Ball in London (Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

Debutantes attend the Russian Ball in London (Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)


April 24, 2023   6 mins

When British politicians boast of their support for Ukraine, they reach for statistics: 1,550 individuals sanctioned, including 130 oligarchs; 180 companies targeted; ÂŁ18 billion frozen. Those are big numbers, packing an impressive rhetorical punch, but they disguise a big problem: the UK doesn’t know what to do with it.

The dirty secret is that we were only able to sanction so much wealth because British governments have for decades welcomed Russian oligarchs, encouraged them to spend money here, and pointedly failed to question the origins of that wealth. By providing them with a safe haven for their money, and a playground in which to spend it, we have — in the manner of a particularly-obliging fence for stolen goods — encouraged them to steal evermore egregiously.

And if we were providing a safe haven for Russian oligarchs, we had no need to employ any investigators, which means — now we’ve suddenly changed our minds about the desirability of welcoming dirty money — we have no one sufficiently skilled or experienced to bring cases against them. So, all of this frozen money is in limbo, and its owners aren’t happy about it. The problems will start with legal challenges, the first of which is imminent. Eugene Shvidler is a Russian born UK-US citizen and, according to Forbes, is worth $1.7 billion. The British government sanctioned him last March because of his business ties with Roman Abramovich, saying that he was “involved in obtaining a benefit from or supporting the Government of Russia”, which his lawyers say is plainly unfair.

The case is due to be heard next month, and lawyers certainly sound like they’ve gearing up to bring more cases against the UK’s sanctions. “They are an act of war and a gross departure from the rule of law,” Robert Amsterdam, a partner at Amsterdam & Partners in London who has been working on high-profile oligarch-related cases for decades, told The Times. “Western governments have sanctioned Russians who have nothing to do with Putin and fail to understand that not all rich Russian businessmen are oligarchs and Putin cronies.”

Among the wealthy Russians with substantial amounts of wealth frozen in London are Andrei Guryev, fertiliser tycoon and owner of Witanhurst, the second-biggest house in the capital; Oleg Deripaska, the aluminium baron whose property on Belgrave Square was invaded by anarchists a year ago; Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven, bankers who’ve tried using British lawyers to clear their names before; and, of course, Abramovich himself.

It’s easy to see why they might choose to employ their right to challenge the Government’s decision to freeze their assets. Sanctioned oligarchs have a “general licence” to use otherwise-blocked money to pay legal fees, which makes a court challenge a free hit: if you’re going to lose your wealth anyway, you may as well spend it on lawyers. Having imposed limits on dozens of oligarchs, as well as multiple banks, the Office for Financial Sanctions Implementation will be tied up in these cases for years, and ministers don’t know what to do about it. It’s politically impossible for ministers to cancel the sanctions, so the frozen property will become a legal piñata, showering fees down onto any lawyers prepared to give it a whack, and using up ever more of civil servants’ time.

And that risks distracting us from the most important question we need to ask, which is: why was £18 billion worth of suspicious Kremlin-linked property in Britain in the first place? The UK’s unique combination of a friendly tax regime, biddable politicians, luxury housing and under-resourced law enforcement agencies have made it a home from home for kleptocrats the world over. Unlike in the United States, where federal agencies prosecute financial criminals no matter how deep their pockets, cash-stripped British investigators are vanishingly unlikely to probe the wealth of anyone able to afford a good legal team.

The Government has brought in new legislation over the past year to close some of the worst loopholes in our financial system. It is no longer possible for the ownership of UK properties to be hidden behind offshore shell companies; or for anonymous UK companies to be used to launder money through foreign bank accounts. And that is welcome. However, despite ministers’ claims, they have done nothing to change the core problem, which is that they don’t have enough officers to enforce the laws that politicians pass. Officers at the National Crime Agency are funded at a third of the level of their counterparts at the FBI, and the same is true at lower levels of policing. Financial crime is 41% of all crime committed in the UK, yet receives less than 1% of police resourcing.

Sanctions are law enforcement on the cheap. Yes, they result in assets being frozen, but only because politicians say so, not as part of a legal investigation, which means they don’t result in prosecution, conviction and confiscation. Sanctions don’t lead anywhere: they’re like an aircraft carrier with no planes; or a government construction programme, which never builds any actual hospitals. Yes, they have a propaganda value, but if we wish to move from freezing assets to seizing them, we come up against the consequences of our decades-long failure to invest in law enforcement.

As one official at the National Crime Agency told me laconically: “The lawyers have a look and say to the director general: ‘worst case scenario, this could cost us a billion’. If you’re the DG and your budget is £800 million, that will give you pause for thought.” Whichever agency you pick – the NCA, the Serious Fraud Office, the Metropolitan or City of London Police forces — you find the same picture: it’s under-staffed, under-resourced and under-motivated. Experienced investigators are continuously being poached by City firms keen to staff their compliance departments, which are able to offer more money and less stress. A senior detective joked to me last month that he was pitching his agency to graduates with the promise that “if you work for us, you’ll walk into a job at HSBC in three years’ time”.

In an attempt to ensure its limited resources are used effectively, six years ago the Government created the National Economic Crime Centre. But without sufficient resourcing, it has failed to deliver the “step-change” politicians promised, and instead just issues press releases announcing things that would have happened anyway. Grumpy officers now grumble that its NECC acronym really stands for “National Experts for Claiming Credit”.

Investigating kleptocratic wealth is hard at the best of times: its owners’ identities are hidden behind shell companies in multiple jurisdictions, and are protected by the world’s finest lawyers. When the NCA did bring a case against houses owned by the daughter and grandson of the former president of Kazakhstan, its lawyers were eviscerated by opponents from City gunslingers Mishcon de Reya, ably assisted by the near-bulletproof Panamanian shell structures through which the property was owned. Meanwhile, prosecutors seeking evidence of how wealth has been stolen have to rely on counterparts in the kleptocrats’ home countries, where crooked police officers will not give evidence against their own bosses.

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that Britain’s already-stretched officers have two competing demands: first, they have to investigate the wealth brought into our country during the decades-long “no questions asked” period; and secondly, they have to prevent more wealth joining it from other countries plagued by kleptocratic elites, whether they’re elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, in the Far East, South Asia, Africa or elsewhere. London’s new Nine Elms district is just the most visible example of developments built to attract hot money from Far Eastern investors, much of which will be as questionable as the Russian money we welcomed in the past.

And so the sanctioned Russian wealth is stuck. It cannot be confiscated, because the UK lacks the investigative firepower to bring solid cases to court; but it cannot be released, because to do so would strengthen Vladimir Putin, an indicted war criminal. This stalemate benefits no one, except the lawyers who are paid to maintain it.

Is there a way through? Possibly. But to find it we first need to ask what problem the sanctions were designed to solve. Before February 2022, the threat of them was intended to dissuade Vladimir Putin from attacking Ukraine at all, a task at which they self-evidently failed. When war began, sanctions were employed to deny the Kremlin access to money it could use to fight its war by freezing it in place. That aim has been achieved, but risks being undone if successful legal challenges reduce the amount of wealth that is frozen. Officials now talk about a new aim, which is to confiscate the frozen wealth, and to use it to help Ukraine rebuild its bridges, roads, houses, schools, hospitals, power stations and factories.

Last July, Canada passed a law allowing its government to seize sanctioned assets, in order to help Ukraine and compensate Putin’s victims. In December, it began a confiscation process against wealth owned by one of Abramovich’s companies under this new simplified procedure. Here the Canadians have offered a path for us to follow. It feels wrong to take property away without a court proceedings, but leaving the money in limbo risks it being dissipated in legal fees like a super-charged 21st-century Jarndyce v Jarndyce. And perhaps, if we can confiscate some of this property, we’ll help ourselves too: we’ll cool our super-heated housing market; we’ll drive dirty money out of politics; and we’ll prevent new Putins from building new kleptocracies.


Oliver Bullough is a journalist and author from Wales. He has lived and worked throughout the former Soviet Union. His latest book is Butler to the World.

OliverBullough

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

27 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
1 year ago

> It feels wrong to take property away without a court proceedings
It feels wrong because it is wrong.
> if we can confiscate some of this property, we’ll help ourselves too
It might seem amazing that a commentariat so obsessed with standing up for minorities has been so quick to throw Russians under the bus. The same people who express outrage that Japanese Americans were interned in WW2 don’t seem to mind if a “a Russian born UK-US citizen” has his assets seized.
Perhaps some of the wealth of these “oligarchs” is indeed ill-gotten, but that doesn’t mean it’s ours to take. Expropriating rich people on the basis of their nationality is morally bankrupt, and sets a dangerous precedent.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

We need to distinguish two distinct actions here:
1) Freezing assets
2) Permanent expropriation of property
Let’s be very careful that we do not confuse these.
My understanding was that the measures taken against Russian oligarchs in London were of the first type. Which would not consitute confiscation.
I also understood that the fairly recent Unexplained Wealth Order legislation does allow confiscation and does not discriminate by nationality. I have no problem with this being used where it is beyond doubt that assets were criminally acquired. Not sure if this goes through the courts – obviously preferable if it does in some form – though juries may struggle to understand such cases.

Alan Gore
Alan Gore
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

The US has tried out this idea using the illegal drug trade as cover, and the outcome has been horrible beyond description. Very quickly, it degenerated into a general “civil forfeiture” power given to any law enforcement operative on any level to steal cash and assets from people if their officer personally suspects that it results from criminal activity.

When you are arrested for anything, due process applies: cash and assets in your possession are frozen pending trial. If found guilty, the court determines whether your assets are part of the crime and if so, whether they should be used to compensate victims or go to the general fund. But in a civil forfeiture regime, there is no arrest and the seizing agency gets to apply the funds to its own budget with no due process and no accountability. This is how small-town police forces can afford the paramilitary gear that ill-trained SWAT teams in news stories use in raiding mistaken addresses and shooting everybody before bothering to ask questions.

Britain, do not go down this road! It’s the Interstate Highway to hell.

Last edited 1 year ago by Alan Gore
Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

It is self-evident that these sanctions have not only failed utterly to deter Putin from his activities in Ukraine, they have destroyed Britain’s reputation for upholding the rule of law and respecting property rights.
Any overseas citizen or business looking to invest in the UK will now think twice, since assets can be ‘confiscated’ (read stolen) without due process at the whim of a government which happens to take umbrage at another government’s actions, whether or not the owner of the assets has any involvement in those actions.
Yes, of course we should have stopped this dirty money from entering the system in the first place, but this is shutting the stable door to spite our own face (apologies for the mixed metaphor).

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

We need to distinguish two distinct actions here:
1) Freezing assets
2) Permanent expropriation of property
Let’s be very careful that we do not confuse these.
My understanding was that the measures taken against Russian oligarchs in London were of the first type. Which would not consitute confiscation.
I also understood that the fairly recent Unexplained Wealth Order legislation does allow confiscation and does not discriminate by nationality. I have no problem with this being used where it is beyond doubt that assets were criminally acquired. Not sure if this goes through the courts – obviously preferable if it does in some form – though juries may struggle to understand such cases.

Alan Gore
Alan Gore
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

The US has tried out this idea using the illegal drug trade as cover, and the outcome has been horrible beyond description. Very quickly, it degenerated into a general “civil forfeiture” power given to any law enforcement operative on any level to steal cash and assets from people if their officer personally suspects that it results from criminal activity.

When you are arrested for anything, due process applies: cash and assets in your possession are frozen pending trial. If found guilty, the court determines whether your assets are part of the crime and if so, whether they should be used to compensate victims or go to the general fund. But in a civil forfeiture regime, there is no arrest and the seizing agency gets to apply the funds to its own budget with no due process and no accountability. This is how small-town police forces can afford the paramilitary gear that ill-trained SWAT teams in news stories use in raiding mistaken addresses and shooting everybody before bothering to ask questions.

Britain, do not go down this road! It’s the Interstate Highway to hell.

Last edited 1 year ago by Alan Gore
Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

It is self-evident that these sanctions have not only failed utterly to deter Putin from his activities in Ukraine, they have destroyed Britain’s reputation for upholding the rule of law and respecting property rights.
Any overseas citizen or business looking to invest in the UK will now think twice, since assets can be ‘confiscated’ (read stolen) without due process at the whim of a government which happens to take umbrage at another government’s actions, whether or not the owner of the assets has any involvement in those actions.
Yes, of course we should have stopped this dirty money from entering the system in the first place, but this is shutting the stable door to spite our own face (apologies for the mixed metaphor).

Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
1 year ago

> It feels wrong to take property away without a court proceedings
It feels wrong because it is wrong.
> if we can confiscate some of this property, we’ll help ourselves too
It might seem amazing that a commentariat so obsessed with standing up for minorities has been so quick to throw Russians under the bus. The same people who express outrage that Japanese Americans were interned in WW2 don’t seem to mind if a “a Russian born UK-US citizen” has his assets seized.
Perhaps some of the wealth of these “oligarchs” is indeed ill-gotten, but that doesn’t mean it’s ours to take. Expropriating rich people on the basis of their nationality is morally bankrupt, and sets a dangerous precedent.

Elliott Bjorn
Elliott Bjorn
1 year ago

”Last July, Canada passed a law allowing its government to seize sanctioned assets,”

Yea, like the Truckers bank accounts. Canada is a rogue state where ‘Political Crime’ caries the worst sanctions, where street crime is quasi legalized. Legal, assisted, suicide is now the second largest cause of death – twisted country, WEF goons….A kinder 1984.

‘Here the Canadians have offered a path for us to follow.”

FFS!!!! Mao also offered that path to his people – they killed all the ‘Intellectuals and Landlords and took their money – this is where Trudeau learned it, from his father Fidel Castro. You think it is one you should fallow?

All the blood spent in Ukraine, all the lives destroyed, the nation destroyed – that is on You Neo-Con Warmongering monsters.

It was none of our business – since 2010 the Clintons, Obamas, Bidens have used Ukraine as their personal Piggy-bank. Then they use it Politically as some Chess board to play out their weird Globalist ‘Great Game’.

Biden/Boris have destroyed a generation of young Ukrainians, their nation, and their future (no one will pay to rebuild it, most refugees will never return stealing another generation of children who are needed to rebuild)

Supplying $113 Billion from Biden alone – most of it to sheer corruption – corruption of $400,000,000,000 stolen Last Year Alone according to CIA. This corruption is sheer payoffs to Ukrainian Generals and Oligarchs to keep fighting. This is Blood Money – paid to the evil Ukrainian bosses to destroy their nation and people for some reason only Biden and Boris’s handlers understand. Paid so they fight to the last Ukrainian.

This was is more evil that Iraq and Afghanistan – you Neo-Cons bathe in the blood of innocents. When the smoke of cordite finally blows off the last field of battle there you will rush to start another pointless war some where ï»żelse…. Wicked, Evil Warmongers! Vampires!

PEACE NOW!

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

You seem to forget that Russia invaded an independent sovereign country and are laying waste to it and murdering many thousands while committing the most egregious of war crimes. Maybe we should just let them crack on with that … or maybe not. Obviously you think it’s all OK and not our problem, I don’t.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

The problem is that, the expectation of peace was: that Ukraine gets to have a ruling party and coup heavily funded by the US, NATO expands all the way to Ukraine, Russia lose their Black sea base and the majority Russian Donetsk (who legally chose the previous leader who had to flee for his life) get to be “Ukrainian” whether they liked it or not, or else.

For all the talk about evil Putin, the question really is would any responsible leader of Russia accept that peace?

If anything, the US COUNTED upon the Russians deciding that war was necessary. Anybody with a brain knows that the Ukraine war was the ideal outcome as per US interests, for multiple reasons.

Especially when those shrieking about “Russian invasion” are precisely those countries that destroyed Iraq and Libya on a whim, and merrily supplied the arms used to pulverise Kurds in Turkey or the Yemenis…

Last edited 1 year ago by Samir Iker
Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

The problem is that, the expectation of peace was: that Ukraine gets to have a ruling party and coup heavily funded by the US, NATO expands all the way to Ukraine, Russia lose their Black sea base and the majority Russian Donetsk (who legally chose the previous leader who had to flee for his life) get to be “Ukrainian” whether they liked it or not, or else.

For all the talk about evil Putin, the question really is would any responsible leader of Russia accept that peace?

If anything, the US COUNTED upon the Russians deciding that war was necessary. Anybody with a brain knows that the Ukraine war was the ideal outcome as per US interests, for multiple reasons.

Especially when those shrieking about “Russian invasion” are precisely those countries that destroyed Iraq and Libya on a whim, and merrily supplied the arms used to pulverise Kurds in Turkey or the Yemenis…

Last edited 1 year ago by Samir Iker
Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

You seem to forget that Russia invaded an independent sovereign country and are laying waste to it and murdering many thousands while committing the most egregious of war crimes. Maybe we should just let them crack on with that … or maybe not. Obviously you think it’s all OK and not our problem, I don’t.

Elliott Bjorn
Elliott Bjorn
1 year ago

”Last July, Canada passed a law allowing its government to seize sanctioned assets,”

Yea, like the Truckers bank accounts. Canada is a rogue state where ‘Political Crime’ caries the worst sanctions, where street crime is quasi legalized. Legal, assisted, suicide is now the second largest cause of death – twisted country, WEF goons….A kinder 1984.

‘Here the Canadians have offered a path for us to follow.”

FFS!!!! Mao also offered that path to his people – they killed all the ‘Intellectuals and Landlords and took their money – this is where Trudeau learned it, from his father Fidel Castro. You think it is one you should fallow?

All the blood spent in Ukraine, all the lives destroyed, the nation destroyed – that is on You Neo-Con Warmongering monsters.

It was none of our business – since 2010 the Clintons, Obamas, Bidens have used Ukraine as their personal Piggy-bank. Then they use it Politically as some Chess board to play out their weird Globalist ‘Great Game’.

Biden/Boris have destroyed a generation of young Ukrainians, their nation, and their future (no one will pay to rebuild it, most refugees will never return stealing another generation of children who are needed to rebuild)

Supplying $113 Billion from Biden alone – most of it to sheer corruption – corruption of $400,000,000,000 stolen Last Year Alone according to CIA. This corruption is sheer payoffs to Ukrainian Generals and Oligarchs to keep fighting. This is Blood Money – paid to the evil Ukrainian bosses to destroy their nation and people for some reason only Biden and Boris’s handlers understand. Paid so they fight to the last Ukrainian.

This was is more evil that Iraq and Afghanistan – you Neo-Cons bathe in the blood of innocents. When the smoke of cordite finally blows off the last field of battle there you will rush to start another pointless war some where ï»żelse…. Wicked, Evil Warmongers! Vampires!

PEACE NOW!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

Bullough has, it seems, made a career railing against ” money laundering” and so called” dirty money, but interestingly does not appear to indulge in debate, or polemic, let alone analysis or discussion that will allow his quasi spiritual obsession to come under any expert scrutiny?

The hard facts are that every country needs, and benefits from inwards flows of capital and savings as, Mr. Bullough, as you avoid ever mentioning, every pound that that brings, is a pound that does not have to come from the British taxpayers pocket.

And just what is ” dirty” or ‘ laundered” money? Who has the right to judge and decide?

Should your Volkswagen be sequestered because the business was set up by Hitler, and later used slave labour? Should your Tesco loaf of bread have you subject to a dawn raid by GestaPlod, because some of the grain made to use it was smuggled out of Russia and sold as Ukranian grain to the bread manufacturer?

It is a fiction and illusion, no less than one refusing to spend a tenner from your cash point, in case it was once the proceed of someone selling ÂŁ10 of dope to his mate?

Put away moral indignation and accept the fact, yes fact, that electronic transfers, bearer bonds, and capital markets instruments make this stone age equivalent of ” that is not a real groat, sire” a King’s new clothes con perpertrated by Governments who use it when it suits them.

Our government with its bare faced daily indulgence in eye watering levels of dishonesty, and the self preservation of the sea of festering mediocrity that makes up its numbers, should be taking in every dime possible, and not pretending that it has one scintilla of fake ‘ morality’.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

The Swiss used to believe in, and behave like that, up until a few years ago.
Then the USA became vexed and set on them like a “Patterdale Terrier on a rat”!

‘They’ still haven’t fully recovered from the shock.

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Taking your argument to the extreme, then knowlngly handling stolen goods would not be a crime. Is that where you want to take it ?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

no response as you do not understand my points- go away, read, learn and inwardly digest, and it is almost demi- illiterate to postulate upon a point that I did not make:

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

No, I understand your points. I just don’t think they make sense. You are arguing that you – or your country – have no personal or moral responsibility for who you do business with. Few people would agree with you.
I didn’t say you made that point. Merely that you were well down that particular slippery slope. Go that way if you choose. I shan’t be sharing the journey.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

No, I understand your points. I just don’t think they make sense. You are arguing that you – or your country – have no personal or moral responsibility for who you do business with. Few people would agree with you.
I didn’t say you made that point. Merely that you were well down that particular slippery slope. Go that way if you choose. I shan’t be sharing the journey.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

no response as you do not understand my points- go away, read, learn and inwardly digest, and it is almost demi- illiterate to postulate upon a point that I did not make:

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

The Swiss used to believe in, and behave like that, up until a few years ago.
Then the USA became vexed and set on them like a “Patterdale Terrier on a rat”!

‘They’ still haven’t fully recovered from the shock.

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Taking your argument to the extreme, then knowlngly handling stolen goods would not be a crime. Is that where you want to take it ?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

Bullough has, it seems, made a career railing against ” money laundering” and so called” dirty money, but interestingly does not appear to indulge in debate, or polemic, let alone analysis or discussion that will allow his quasi spiritual obsession to come under any expert scrutiny?

The hard facts are that every country needs, and benefits from inwards flows of capital and savings as, Mr. Bullough, as you avoid ever mentioning, every pound that that brings, is a pound that does not have to come from the British taxpayers pocket.

And just what is ” dirty” or ‘ laundered” money? Who has the right to judge and decide?

Should your Volkswagen be sequestered because the business was set up by Hitler, and later used slave labour? Should your Tesco loaf of bread have you subject to a dawn raid by GestaPlod, because some of the grain made to use it was smuggled out of Russia and sold as Ukranian grain to the bread manufacturer?

It is a fiction and illusion, no less than one refusing to spend a tenner from your cash point, in case it was once the proceed of someone selling ÂŁ10 of dope to his mate?

Put away moral indignation and accept the fact, yes fact, that electronic transfers, bearer bonds, and capital markets instruments make this stone age equivalent of ” that is not a real groat, sire” a King’s new clothes con perpertrated by Governments who use it when it suits them.

Our government with its bare faced daily indulgence in eye watering levels of dishonesty, and the self preservation of the sea of festering mediocrity that makes up its numbers, should be taking in every dime possible, and not pretending that it has one scintilla of fake ‘ morality’.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
1 year ago

No, the real question is not how theses people and their money came to Britain. The real question is “What is the purpose of sanctioning these people in this way?” And the answer is there is no rational purpose except to help an impotent government look like it is doing something about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While said government acts to prevent the government of Ukraine from seeking to end the conflict. A conflict that said government helped provoke over the course of three decades of reckless and irresponsible acts.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
1 year ago

No, the real question is not how theses people and their money came to Britain. The real question is “What is the purpose of sanctioning these people in this way?” And the answer is there is no rational purpose except to help an impotent government look like it is doing something about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While said government acts to prevent the government of Ukraine from seeking to end the conflict. A conflict that said government helped provoke over the course of three decades of reckless and irresponsible acts.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

How commendably modest of you Mr Bullough NOT to mention your excellent book ‘Butler to the World’.

I thought Great Britain had reached its moral nadir with Blair’s Iraq War, but thanks to you and your sterling work, I know differently. Thank you.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

How commendably modest of you Mr Bullough NOT to mention your excellent book ‘Butler to the World’.

I thought Great Britain had reached its moral nadir with Blair’s Iraq War, but thanks to you and your sterling work, I know differently. Thank you.

Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
1 year ago

Are you saying malfeasance is ok as long as its Ukraine doing it? And it was ok as long as Russian oligarch wealth suited the Establishment in Britain?

Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
1 year ago

Are you saying malfeasance is ok as long as its Ukraine doing it? And it was ok as long as Russian oligarch wealth suited the Establishment in Britain?

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Absolutely right. Britain is not serious about financial and white collar crime. Or rather, it is serious about these crimes – just not about preventing and prosecuting them. Kudos to the Americans who do take such crimes seriously.
The whole policy of pimping the oligarchs – taking a cut of their immoral earnings – has been disgusting. This mentality started with Peter Mandelson (who it must be said at least practice what he preached – a man who had to resign not once but twice for financial improprieties and related misjudgements). Gordon Brown’s policy of “pimping the City” also laid the ground. But George Osborne bears most of the responsibility. I’m reminded of the Premier League’s farcical “fit and proper persons test” – which no one yet seems to have failed.
But these are not “Britain’s oligarchs”. They are not British. Who writes these titles ?
It is time there was some real and serious financial sanction against UK lawyers, accountants and estate agents involved in assisting money laundering and financial crime. It may also need actual custodial sentences.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Back in the 18th century, when our hanging rate was the envy* of Europe, the ONE crime that never seems to have warranted a reprieve in the form of Transportation was Fraud and Uttering.

Our gallows positively groaned under the weight of strangled fraudsters.
A good case study is that of 23 year old Henry Griffin, hanged/strangled outside the Old Bailey on Wednesday the 13th February, 1793, at approximately 0900hrs.

(* Some say ‘wonder’.)

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

You learn something every day !
I had no idea about this meaning of “uttering”:
Uttering is a crime involving a person with the intent to defraud that knowingly sells, publishes or passes a forged or counterfeited document. More specifically, forgery creates a falsified document and uttering is the act of knowingly passing on or using the forged document.
So investment banking then ?!
Were we keeping up with the French decapitations though ?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

On an annualised basis yes, although they did have a ‘surge’ between 1793-97.
Off course Guillotining was thought to be painless hence its adoption, thanks to the proposal of the very humane Dr Joseph-Ignace Guillotin.
‘Our’ system was much more of a ‘spectator sport’ and thus was considerably more agonising, if done properly.

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

I thought hanging (to be clear, I’m not a supporter of it) was actually quite quick if done properly since it actually works by instantly snapping the neck – requires a minimum vertical drop and stiff rope to do so) and that only botched hangings resulted in strangulation. But I suspect you know a bit more about the subject than me.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Censored.

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Only tiny little bit.

What you describe is called ‘long drop’ and was really only perfected in the mid 19th century. Later off course our own Albert Pierrepont became the master of this technique. There were however still some notoriously ‘botched’ hangings, most notably at Nuremberg in 1946.

Before all this it was ‘short drop’ resulting in slow strangulation, death occurring in anything between five and twenty minute, much to the amusement of the crowd it must be said.
That old soldier Guy Fawkes famously avoided this fate in 1605 by climbing far up the ladder before throwing himself off, thus achieving ‘long drop’ and near instantaneous death*.

(* When Albert Pierrepoint was hanging Germans (circa 160) in Hameln Gaol in 1946, it was found that some of the condemned were still alive although NOT conscious, despite ‘long drop’ and breaking their necks.

ps.The Censor has finally relented and my final epistle on the subject of the ‘Pax Americana’, that we were so amicably discussing over the weekend has been posted.
Albeit 36 hours late!

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

I knew you wouldn’t disappoint here !
Taking that new knowledge into consideration, I’ve taken a more conciliatory line in my response to your delayed comment.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

ps. My reply has yet again fallen foul of the Censor!
Another 24 hour+ delay.
Does the CIA monitor this stuff?

The answer to that rhetorical question is YES!
My response has just been CLEARED!
HBP!

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

ps. My reply has yet again fallen foul of the Censor!
Another 24 hour+ delay.
Does the CIA monitor this stuff?

The answer to that rhetorical question is YES!
My response has just been CLEARED!
HBP!

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

I knew you wouldn’t disappoint here !
Taking that new knowledge into consideration, I’ve taken a more conciliatory line in my response to your delayed comment.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Censored.

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Only tiny little bit.

What you describe is called ‘long drop’ and was really only perfected in the mid 19th century. Later off course our own Albert Pierrepont became the master of this technique. There were however still some notoriously ‘botched’ hangings, most notably at Nuremberg in 1946.

Before all this it was ‘short drop’ resulting in slow strangulation, death occurring in anything between five and twenty minute, much to the amusement of the crowd it must be said.
That old soldier Guy Fawkes famously avoided this fate in 1605 by climbing far up the ladder before throwing himself off, thus achieving ‘long drop’ and near instantaneous death*.

(* When Albert Pierrepoint was hanging Germans (circa 160) in Hameln Gaol in 1946, it was found that some of the condemned were still alive although NOT conscious, despite ‘long drop’ and breaking their necks.

ps.The Censor has finally relented and my final epistle on the subject of the ‘Pax Americana’, that we were so amicably discussing over the weekend has been posted.
Albeit 36 hours late!

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

I thought hanging (to be clear, I’m not a supporter of it) was actually quite quick if done properly since it actually works by instantly snapping the neck – requires a minimum vertical drop and stiff rope to do so) and that only botched hangings resulted in strangulation. But I suspect you know a bit more about the subject than me.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

On an annualised basis yes, although they did have a ‘surge’ between 1793-97.
Off course Guillotining was thought to be painless hence its adoption, thanks to the proposal of the very humane Dr Joseph-Ignace Guillotin.
‘Our’ system was much more of a ‘spectator sport’ and thus was considerably more agonising, if done properly.

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago

On the Continent, pre nice and humane guillotining, the preferred method was breaking on the wheel. Basically tie your recalcitrant to a cart wheel then smash him about breaking assorted bones and leave him (I think ladies had the pleasure of being burned) to slowly and painfully expire. Many travellers tales of passing lots of such poor sods by the side of the road. I would be interested in a good source of comparative execution rates between different countries if you have one – it would be unusual to see GB topping a table of something!

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

You learn something every day !
I had no idea about this meaning of “uttering”:
Uttering is a crime involving a person with the intent to defraud that knowingly sells, publishes or passes a forged or counterfeited document. More specifically, forgery creates a falsified document and uttering is the act of knowingly passing on or using the forged document.
So investment banking then ?!
Were we keeping up with the French decapitations though ?

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago

On the Continent, pre nice and humane guillotining, the preferred method was breaking on the wheel. Basically tie your recalcitrant to a cart wheel then smash him about breaking assorted bones and leave him (I think ladies had the pleasure of being burned) to slowly and painfully expire. Many travellers tales of passing lots of such poor sods by the side of the road. I would be interested in a good source of comparative execution rates between different countries if you have one – it would be unusual to see GB topping a table of something!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

No, Americans do not, otherwise the US treasury bill would not be one of the most widely used methods of moving money.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

The nesting of these comments is throwing me. I’m not certain what the “do not” applies to. I assume my assertion that the US takes financial crime seriously.
Well, they’re a lot more serious than we are in the UK, which was my real point. They put people away for serious jail time. We could, for example, have prosecuted Mike Lynch (or Autonomy notoriety) here, but we’ve chosen to hve him go the the US for trial. I’m not saying I agree with that decision or implying any guilt/innocence in this case. Just noting that it’s a typical example of how poorly we do this in the UK. Perhaps deliberately.
I’ll defer to your superior finance knowledge about US treasury bills and their potential use in fraud. Not an area I know anything about.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

The nesting of these comments is throwing me. I’m not certain what the “do not” applies to. I assume my assertion that the US takes financial crime seriously.
Well, they’re a lot more serious than we are in the UK, which was my real point. They put people away for serious jail time. We could, for example, have prosecuted Mike Lynch (or Autonomy notoriety) here, but we’ve chosen to hve him go the the US for trial. I’m not saying I agree with that decision or implying any guilt/innocence in this case. Just noting that it’s a typical example of how poorly we do this in the UK. Perhaps deliberately.
I’ll defer to your superior finance knowledge about US treasury bills and their potential use in fraud. Not an area I know anything about.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Back in the 18th century, when our hanging rate was the envy* of Europe, the ONE crime that never seems to have warranted a reprieve in the form of Transportation was Fraud and Uttering.

Our gallows positively groaned under the weight of strangled fraudsters.
A good case study is that of 23 year old Henry Griffin, hanged/strangled outside the Old Bailey on Wednesday the 13th February, 1793, at approximately 0900hrs.

(* Some say ‘wonder’.)

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

No, Americans do not, otherwise the US treasury bill would not be one of the most widely used methods of moving money.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Absolutely right. Britain is not serious about financial and white collar crime. Or rather, it is serious about these crimes – just not about preventing and prosecuting them. Kudos to the Americans who do take such crimes seriously.
The whole policy of pimping the oligarchs – taking a cut of their immoral earnings – has been disgusting. This mentality started with Peter Mandelson (who it must be said at least practice what he preached – a man who had to resign not once but twice for financial improprieties and related misjudgements). Gordon Brown’s policy of “pimping the City” also laid the ground. But George Osborne bears most of the responsibility. I’m reminded of the Premier League’s farcical “fit and proper persons test” – which no one yet seems to have failed.
But these are not “Britain’s oligarchs”. They are not British. Who writes these titles ?
It is time there was some real and serious financial sanction against UK lawyers, accountants and estate agents involved in assisting money laundering and financial crime. It may also need actual custodial sentences.