Britain plans emergency legislation to speed up Russia sanctions

UK government has faced criticism that it has taken too long to go after people with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss makes a statement on sanctions following Russian invasion of Ukraine. Reuters
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Britain plans to amend legislation so it can move faster with economic sanctions against oligarchs and businesses associated with Russian President Vladimir Putin following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the government said on Friday.

The government has faced criticism that it has taken too long to go after people with ties to Mr Putin.

“The changes we are making will allow us to go faster and harder on those closest to Putin, including oligarchs, as we continue to ratchet pressure in the face of illegal and unprovoked Russian aggression,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “The UK has led the way with the toughest package of sanctions against Putin’s regime and we’re bolstering this with new powers in our arsenal to go further and faster.

“We will ramp up the pressure on those criminal elites trying to launder money on UK soil and close the net on corruption. They will have nowhere to hide.”

Since Russia launched the invasion on February 24, Britain has imposed sanctions on 11 wealthy Russians, Mr Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as well as four Belarusian military officials.

The first set of amendments to the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill will give Britain new powers to more rapidly sanction those who have already been sanctioned by the EU, US or Canada.

The amendments will remove the test of “appropriateness” for designations, enabling the government to act more quickly and further enable the designations of groups of individuals, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The government has also brought forward amendments to shorten the deadline for overseas companies to register their beneficial owners from 18 months to six.

The move, it said, will help crack down on money laundering through UK property, while giving people who hold their property in overseas entities for legitimate reasons appropriate time to comply with the new requirements.

The bill will be expedited through all its House of Commons stages on Monday, with the government looking for swift passage through House of Lords to make it law as soon as possible, the government said.

Updated: March 07, 2022, 5:09 AM