The UK government this week issued a warning to oligarchs and rich Russians living in Britain and suspected of corruption.
They will be forced to explain their luxury lifestyles in the UK as part of a crackdown on organized crime, security minister Ben Wallace said. Officials could seize suspicious assets worth more than £50,000 ($70,565).
RT talked to George Galloway, former UK member of parliament, to understand why the British authorities were not concerned about the issue before, when the same wealthy Russians began moving to the UK in the 1990s.
“They were not concerned before because they approved of the wholesale theft of Russia’s wealth back then, and the Yeltsin regime which facilitated it,” said Galloway.
“The British government is acting now for hypocritical reasons entirely based on its conflict with today’s Russian government and President Putin in particular,” he added.
According to the politician, the authorities “disapprove of Russia’s growing international prestige, of the return of national dignity to Russia and, ironically, the crackdown on Russian oligarchs by the Kremlin.”
He explained that the crackdown has “nothing to do with Brexit or a shortage of cash,” saying: “This move is entirely politically driven by Cold War mentality.”
When asked why British law enforcement is concerned about the origin of money from criminal activities, if the crimes did not take place in the UK, Galloway said: “It should be concerned about the proliferation of hot money in the UK.”
“Just as without the receiver of stolen goods there would be far fewer thieves, so the deposit of funds stolen abroad in property and in other forms in London facilitates crime abroad.”
He expressed hopes that the UK could soon lose its status of a haven for the rich, as “There is no honor in being a haven for rich and unscrupulous people.”
Rich Russians “should take themselves and their riches back to Russia,” Galloway said, as “much of these riches belong to Russia and should be returned.”