‘Admission of corruption’: Jacob Rees-Mogg mocked after Russian money claim backfires

Cabinet minister’s evidence apparently shows UK ‘sheltering more dirty money from Russia than anyone else’

www.independent.co.uk 

Jacob Rees-Mogg has been mocked after his claim that the UK “leads the way” in sanctioning Russian banks backfired spectacularly.

The Cabinet minister took to social media over the weekend to defend the government’s record on sanctions, following criticism that it had been too slow.

To make his point the Tory MP produced a chart showing the UK had sanctioned £258.8 billion, compared to £240 billion in the US and £38.8 billion in the EU.

But opposition politicians were quick to point out that the chart suggested there was simply more Russian money worth sanctioning in London than elsewhere.

Labour MP Chris Bryant said: “All this proves is that thanks to the Tories all the dodgy Russian money is in London. It’s an admission of corruption!”

His colleague Karl Turner added that the minister’s claim in fact showed the “actual scale of ill-gotten Putin money his utterly disgusting Tory Government have let in”.

And ex-Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: “I think this tells us more that the UK is where most of Putin’s billionaires were enabled to safely put their money in the first place.”

SNP MP Peter Grant added: “So that must mean the City of London was sheltering more dirty money from Russia than anyone else?”

Despite the high cash figures produced by Mr Rees-Mogg, the government has sanctioned far fewer individual businessmen with links to the Kremlin than its neighbours – and been slower to do so.

According to figures collated by Bloomberg last week the European Union had sanctioned 490 Russian entities, Canada 413, Australia 407, Switzerland 371, the US 118, Japan 40 and the UK 16.

The UK government says that it has sanctioned far more and claims its figure is closer to 228 following a rush of measures last week.

But an analysis by the BBC’s Reality Check unit has found this figure open to dispute because it it includes subsidiaries and individuals within companies. Whatever the precise figure, the UK is widely regarded to have not gone as far or as hard as its neighbours, despite its rhetoric.

The government has also faced criticism more widely for having let the UK become a hub for Kremlin-linked money in recent decades.