Government urged to put ‘suitable resources’ into enforcing Economic Crime Bill

Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes made the plea.

06 March 2022

The UK Government must ensure “suitable resources” are put into enforcing new laws aimed at cracking down on dirty money, Scotland’s Finance Secretary has insisted.

Kate Forbes made clear the Scottish Government is “fully supportive” of measures to target the wealth and assets of Russian elites close to President Vladimir Putin.

But she stressed it is “vital that suitable resources are put into enforcement of the measures” in the new Economic Crime Bill – which will be considered by MPs on Monday.

The UK Government brought forward the legislation in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

It contains measure which will help the National Crime Agency prevent foreign owners from laundering their money in UK property, and should also allow for more corrupt oligarchs to be hit with Unexplained Wealth Orders.

Holyrood will consider the proposals when it debates a Legislative Consent Memorandum for the Bill in the coming days.

Ms Forbes said: “The Scottish Government is fully supportive of any measures which target the wealth and assets of the Russian regime and its backers, but it is important that the Scottish Parliament has the opportunity to consider its provisions.”

She added: “Greater transparency is critical to identifying links with Putin’s regime.

“However it is vital that suitable resources are put into enforcement of the measures in this Bill and we urge the UK Government to ensure this is provided.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the legislation showed the Government was taking “unprecedented action in the face of barbaric Russian aggression”.

Speaking when the proposals were announced, she stated: “Time is up for Putin’s cronies hiding dirty money in the UK and this new legislation will help to crack down on economic crime, including removing key barriers to using Unexplained Wealth Orders.”

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