Mon, 22 July 2024

Britain’s oligarch problem

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FT documentaries available on YouTube often give more coherent accounts of some business scandal or significant economic development than, for example, the celebrity obsessed BBC, or even the pages of the FT newspaper itself. One example is this excellent documentary on how London became the dirty money capital of the world. There are many others where this came from.


Despite the bellicose posturing of Britain, the British Prime Minister has longstanding form for standing by as the Russian President sought to destabilise the West. It could be forcefully argued  that he facilitated him.

In the early hours of the morning that Russia launched its war against Ukraine, Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted that “the UK and our allies will respond decisively” to the attack.

Rather than decisively confront the threat from Russia, Johnson, Theresa May and David Cameron historically welcomed the widening flow of Russian money and influence into the UK with open arms.

In 2011, Cameron expanded the so-called ‘golden visa’ scheme, which allowed Russian oligarchs – and their money – to flood into London. As mayor of London Johnson openly welcomed the flow of dirty money into the capital.

In the years that followed, Cameron continued to downplay and dismiss concerns that the UK was allowing itself to become a ‘laundromat’ for dirty Russian cash.

Such was the spread of Russian wealth into the UK that some of Cameron’s own ministers ultimately ended up benefiting from it. His Chancellor George Osborne later went to work for Evgeny Lebedev, the son of one Russian oligarch in London, before winning a deal with an investment firm set up by another Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska.

Tory addiction to dirty money

Johnson and Lebedev: the PM and the oligarchs

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