Sadiq Khan calls for further clampdown on Russian property

The Mayor of London called on Michael Gove to take new action against Russians with links to the Kremlin reports Noah Vickers, Data Reporter

Sadiq Khan (credit GLA)
Sadiq Khan (credit GLA)

Sadiq Khan has urged the government to go further in clamping down on property owned by Russians with links to the Kremlin or accused of corruption.

In a letter to housing secretary Michael Gove, the London mayor said that two years on from the invasion of Ukraine, ministers should “urgently act to seize property which has been bought by Putin’s cronies, so we can use the proceeds of this for the benefit of those in need”.

According to a new analysis by City Hall, if the £1.1bn of property identified by Transparency International in 2022 as being bought by Russians accused of corruption or with links to the Kremlin could be sold, this would provide sufficient funding for over 4,000 low-cost homes.

“This could include providing affordable accommodation for some of those Ukrainians who have made London their home after fleeing Ukraine following Putin’s invasion,” said Khan.

While the mayor welcomed the fact that the Government has established a register of overseas entities – aimed at tackling global economic crime – he said he remains concerned that financial trusts can still be used to mask property ownership.

A government spokesperson said: “We have sanctioned over 1,700 individuals and entities since Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, introducing the largest and most severe package of sanctions ever imposed on any major economy.

“We want to do all we can to ensure those with links to Putin’s regime cannot benefit from the UK property market, which is why we are taking action to clean up the sector.

“This includes a consultation on increasing the transparency of property-owning trusts, shining a light on who truly owns our property. We are considering all responses and will respond as soon as possible.”

Khan also told Gove he was “alarmed to see the government’s announcement on the closure of the Ukraine Family Scheme”, arguing that “Ukrainians still going through unimaginable horror in their home country should be able to join family members already taking sanctuary in the UK”.

Although the scheme is being shut, government officials have said a separate Homes for Ukraine scheme will remain in place as a way of “simplifying” the process.

A Home Office spokesperson said earlier this week: “It is right that we continue to adapt and develop the visa routes to ensure they remain as efficient and sustainable as possible.

“Ukrainian nationals who would have qualified under the Ukraine family scheme will still be able to apply to Homes for Ukraine. Family members who are settled here can also still continue to sponsor a family member to come to the UK under Homes for Ukraine.”

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