UK Sanctions 22 Individuals for ‘Serious International Corruption’

The U.K. government has imposed asset freezes and travel bans against 22 individuals from six countries in its first set of measures under the nation’s new Global Anti-Corruption sanctions regime.

UK SanctionsThe U.K. government has imposed asset freezes and travel bans against 22 individuals from six countries (Photo: UK Government)The move, announced this week, seeks to “prevent those responsible from entering the U.K. or laundering their ill-gotten assets here,” and “ensure that the U.K. is not a safe haven for those involved in serious corruption, including those who profit from it,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab wrote in a statement delivered to Parliament on Monday.

The first group of individuals sanctioned under the new regime hail from Russia, South Africa, South Sudan and three Latin American countries. They have been involved in “some of the most notorious corruption cases around the world,” the Foreign Secretary said in the announcement.

These include 14 individuals implicated in the tax fraud scheme uncovered by Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Russian government officials were involved in the theft of US$230 million from Russian taxpayers.

In South Africa, members of the infamous Gupta family and one of their associates, Salim Essa, have been sanctioned for their involvement in “serious” corruption. The Gupta family has been the subject of a series of OCCRP investigations, the most recent of which uncovered how they used an investment firm and a network of shell companies to launder a fortune’s worth of money allegedly stolen from the state.

Sudanese businessman Ashraf Seed Ahmed Hussein Ali, widely known as ‘Al Cardinal’ and also the subject of an OCCRP investigation, was sanctioned for his involvement in the “misappropriation of significant amounts of state assets in one of the poorest countries in the world,” contributing to ongoing instability and conflict.

Three individuals in Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala were also sanctioned for “facilitating bribes to support a drug trafficking cartel,” which contributes to “citizens being deprived of vital resources for development.”

The announcement noted how every year, over 2% of global GDP is lost to corruption which “exacerbates” conflict and “facilitates” serious and organized crime.

As one of the easiest places in the world to register a company, the U.K. has been at the center of some of the world’s biggest corruption scandals. This was acknowledged by the Foreign Secretary who, in his speech to Parliament, called the country a “a honeypot, a lightning rod for corrupt actors who seek to launder their dirty money through British banks or through businesses.”

He ended by saying that more designations will follow as part of the bid to send “the clearest message to all those involved in serious corruption around the world. You can’t come here. You can’t hide your money here.”