In the House of Commons yesterday, I asked the Foreign Secretary about the possibility of freezing Russian assets acquired through crime and corruption.
Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): Citing Russia’s central bank, the Financial Times reports today that up to two thirds of Russian money in London is from corruption and other crime. At the very least, if Britain’s tough words are to mean anything, should not those assets be frozen now?
Mr Hague: We have very important regulations in this country about politically exposed persons—banking regulations cover them—and we have strong laws on money laundering. The right hon. Gentleman will have heard what I said about agreeing with the Ukrainian Prime Minister yesterday about the recovery of assets stolen from Ukraine. Our options are open on that.
Given our experience of applying sanctions to several parts of the world in recent years, I would only add at the moment that if we are to apply sanctions to individuals we must be very sure of our case legally and have the evidence to sustain cases through court proceedings. We have to bear that in mind.