By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor
There have been claims made by a well known anti-corruption campaigner that UK authorities will “always find excuses not to investigate” money laundering.
Bill Browder, a former Hedge Fund chief, told MPs that the UK are actually refusing to look at evidence of “dirty” Russian money, that indicate that money is being laundered through our banking system.
Browder believes that authorities don’t want “to rock the boat,” even when he filed six complaints linked to £20m of stolen money.
Speaking to the Commons Home Affairs Committee, the anti-corruption campaigner said the illicit cash was connected to a £160m tax refund fraud on his Russian Hermitage Fund uncovered by his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky.
Mr Browder became a prominent anti-corruption campaigner after Mr Magnitsky died in a Russian prison cell in 2009 amid allegations he had suffered beatings and had been denied medical treatment.
Mr Browder, is sure that his investigation into laundered money is the tip of the iceberg – the sum trafficked into the UK might actually run into “hundreds of billions of dollars”.
“I think there is a general political feeling that you don’t want to rock the boat,” Mr Browder said. “So many people benefit from that dirty money here, it is a politically toxic issue to address.
“If there are a lot of businesses that are effectively surviving off the back of this money that wouldn’t survive otherwise and they have friends in high places – these people are very close geographically to (Parliament) – they’re going to say ‘Don’t do that’.”
Bowder talked of an “orgy of spending” on luxury goods including properties, yachts and designer dresses using dodgy funds, predominately in exclusive areas of London such as Belgravia, Knightsbridge, Hampstead and Chelsea.
He concluded with a harsh warning that turning a blind eye can make laundered funds appear legitimate. other countries across the world would not think to question money which was flowing into their economy from the UK.