UK authorities believe that professional enablers still funnel Russian illicit money
The head of the National Crime Agency (NCA) stated that professional enablers, such as lawyers, accountants, and real estate agents, continue to funnel money on behalf of Russian oligarchs.
Graeme Biggar referred to the professional services firms as "facilitators" for Russian illicit funds.
“It is auction houses who are buying and selling art and allowing that to happen without being utterly clear [about the identity of buyers and sellers]. It is PR companies who are helping to launder reputations.
“It’s private security organisations who provide protection for individuals when they are here. There are a whole range of people from sectors — much of which are legitimate — that end up supporting what they must suspect is corrupt money,” he told the Sunday Times.
The primary response of the agency to the conflict in Ukraine has been the establishment of the "combating kleptocracy" cell, which targets corrupt elites.
Since the invasion in February, the unit has executed 85 "disruptions," or actions.
Biggar stated that freezing orders have been placed on eight boats, four aircraft, and a number of Russian-affiliated properties in Britain, Europe, North America, and internationally, based on intelligence acquired by the NCA and shared with other agencies.
Unmasking shell corporations in many countries is "vital to the integrity of the United Kingdom and the public's confidence in our institutions," according to the unit.
Graham Bonham Carter, a London-based businessman accused by the United States of aiding Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch, to avoid US sanctions, was arrested in October in a high-profile case.
According to allegations, Bonham-Carter (62) managed a secret family office for Deripaska. He denies any improper conduct.
Biggar also expressed concern that the weaponry sent by the West to assist Ukraine could fall into the hands of criminal organisations or terrorists. According to him, the NCA was collaborating with Kiev and Europol to prevent this.
As a potentially dangerous type of "blowback" from the fighting, police were on the lookout for machineguns, pistols, and grenades being resold.
“As with any conflict, when weapons pour in there is a risk of blowback,” he said. “At the end of the conflict, there are surplus weapons that get into the hands of criminals or terrorists.”
The NCA, which was established in its current form in 2013, employs around 6,000 people, making it the sixth-largest police force in the United Kingdom. In addition to retired police officers, there are also former border security and customs employees.
By fLEXI tEAM