Individuals involved in some of the world’s most serious cases of corruption will no longer be able to channel their money through UK banks or enter the country thanks to new sanctions announced by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab today.
The UK has, for the first time, imposed asset freezes and travel bans against 22 individuals under the new Global Anti-Corruption sanctions regime which gives the UK unprecedented power to stop corrupt actors profiting from the UK economy and exploiting British citizens.Over 2% of global GDP is lost to corruption every year.Corruption hurts individuals and undermines global trade, development and the rule of law. Over 2% of global GDP is lost to corruption every year, and corruption increases the cost of doing business for individual companies by as much as 10%.
Corruption threatens international security by exacerbating conflict and facilitating serious and organised crime, creating space for terrorist and criminal groups like Daesh and Boko Haram to operate.
This new anti-corruption regime will allow the UK to combat serious corruption, in particular bribery and misappropriation.
‘Bribery’ is well understood. As defined in the Regulations it includes both giving a financial or other kind of advantage to a foreign public official, and a foreign public official receiving a financial or other advantage.
‘Misappropriation of property’ occurs where a foreign public official improperly diverts property entrusted to them in their official role. This may be intended to benefit them or a third party. For example, it could include siphoning off state funds to private bank accounts, it could include the improper granting of licenses for the exploitation of natural resources.
The regime will promote effective governance, robust democratic institutions and the rule of law – demonstrating the UK’s power as a force for good around the world.
Our status as a global financial centre makes us an attractive location for investment – and we are proud of that. We welcome it.
But it also makes us a honeypot, a lightning rod for corrupt actors who seek to launder their dirty money through British banks or through businesses.
That’s why we have already taken steps to become a global leader in tackling corruption and illicit finance.
– Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab
The new anti-corruption sanctions are not intended to target whole countries, but rather to target the individuals who should be held responsible for graft and the cronies who support or benefit from their corrupt acts. The regulations will enable the UK enforcement agencies to impose asset freezes and travel bans on individuals and organisations who are involved in serious corruption.
The UK’s first wave of sanctions under this new sanctions regime is targeting:
- those involved in the diversion of $230 million of Russian state property through a fraudulent tax refund scheme uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky – one of the largest tax frauds in recent Russian history
- Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta and their associate Salim Essa, for their roles in serious corruption. They were at the heart of a long-running process of corruption in South Africa which caused significant damage to its economy
- Sudanese businessman Ashraf Seed Ahmed Hussein Ali, widely known as Al Cardinal, for his involvement in the misappropriation of significant amounts of state assets in one of the poorest countries in the world. This diversion of resources in collusion with South Sudanese elites has contributed to ongoing instability and conflict
- several individuals involved in serious corruption in Latin America, including facilitating bribes to support a major drug trafficking organisation and misappropriation that has led to citizens being deprived of vital resources for development
Corruption is not a victimless crime. Far from it, by enriching themselves, these people have caused untold damage, untold hardship on the countries and communities which they exploited for their own predatory greed.
So today, we send a clear message.
Those sanctioned today are not welcome in the UK.
They will not be able to use British bank accounts or businesses to give their illicit actions some veneer of respectability, because their assets in the UK will be frozen.
We will continue to work with our friends and partners, including the US and Canada, who are equipped with legal frameworks to take similar actions.
Britain sends 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.
– Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab
The Global Anti-Corruption sanctions regime builds on the success of the Global Human Rights sanctions regime established in July 2020, which has resulted in the UK imposing sanctions on 78 individuals and entities involved in serious human rights violations in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Pakistan, Myanmar, North Korea, Belarus, The Gambia, Ukraine and most recently in relation to Xinjiang in China.
The UK Bribery Act introduced in 2010 criminalises bribery, and the failure of businesses to prevent bribery from happening in the first place. In April 2016 the UK was the first in the G20 to establish a public register of the beneficial owners of companies and similar legal entities. That was an important first step in tackling the use of anonymous shell companies to move corrupt money around the world. Over four and a half million companies are now listed on that register.
In 2017, the UK adopted an ambitious five year Anti-Corruption Strategy, bringing in measures such as Unexplained Wealth Orders, Account Freezing Orders and the like. That year the UK also established the International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre in London, which has helped freeze over £300 million of suspected corrupt assets worldwide and led to dozens of arrests.
According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, the UK’s commitment to tackling corruption have seen the country rise from a global ranking of 20th in 2010 to 11th place in 2020, out of a total of 180 countries.
The UK will continue to use a range of means to tackle serious corruption around the world, including funding the International Corruption Unit in the National Crime Agency. The International Corruption Unit and its predecessors have restrained, confiscated or returned over £1.1 billion of stolen assets, stolen from developing countries since 2006.
Image: Dominic Raab / Gov.UK