‘We will come after you’: Foreign Secretary Liz Truss draws up ‘hit list’ of Russian oligarchs to face sanctions after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine amid fears the conflict could last for up to a DECADE
- Liz Truss says she has ‘hit list’ of wealthy Russians to hit with financial sanctions
- Foreign Office sources believe conflict in the area could last as long as a decade
- Truss says she wants it to be ‘painful’ for Russian oligarchs who support Putin
The Foreign Office is preparing a ‘hit list’ of Russian oligarchs to be targeted by sanctions in the coming months and fears the conflict in Ukraine could last a decade.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said there would be ‘nowhere left to hide’ for the super-rich allies of Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin.
It comes after Boris Johnson last week named eight high net worth Russians who will be hit by travel bans and asset freezes along with more the 100 individuals, entities and subsidiaries.
Separately the Home Office is going to give more power to the National Crime Agency to explore issuing Unexplained Wealth Orders to find out where money has come from.
Ms Truss said there would be new names added to the list every few weeks as ministers seek to ratchet up the pressure on Mr Putin following his invasion of Ukraine.
Sources in the Foreign Office are said to be bracing for the possibility Russian aggression in the region could go on for as long as ten years.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says she has ‘hit list’ of Russian oligarchs targeted by sanctions
She said more names would be added to that list to keep the pressure up on Vladimir Putin
The Government also plans to boost the powers of Unexplained Wealth Orders. Pictured here is a UWO recipient Zamira Hajiyev, who is not connected to Russia or Putin.
‘We’ve already had letters to the Foreign Office, from lawyers, threatening us, so we have to make sure the cases are properly prepared and that we have the right evidence before we sanction these individuals,’ she said.
‘That is why we’re taking it step by step, but we are working through that hit list and we will continue to sanction new oligarchs every few weeks.
‘We have to make it deeply painful for the oligarchs that support the Putin regime. There are over a hundred Russian billionaires.
On Saturday morning, the upper floors of a building in Kyiv were struck by a Russian rocket (pictured). Reports suggesting at least two people were killed in the explosion
Pictured: The tower block in Kyiv, just moments after being struck by a Russian rocket on Saturday morning
Dramatic video shows a destroyed Russian convoy with Z-markings near Kherson in southern Ukraine
New laws for dirty cash
Emergency laws to tackle dirty Russian money will be brought in this week.
On Tuesday, Home Secretary Priti Patel will introduce legislation to Parliament to overhaul Unexplained Wealth Orders, which can be used to tackle so-called ‘McMafia’ criminal operations.
The proposals are designed to help law enforcement agencies take more effective action against oligarchs, compelling them to prove the origins of their funds in the UK.
Those who are unable to demonstrate the wealth was obtained legitimately could find their homes seized.
Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) have been used only four times since they were introduced in 2018 and not once since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister in 2019.
Last week Mr Johnson pledged to overhaul the system as part of his package of measures in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The reforms will ensure that properties owned by complex ownership structures are within scope of UWOs.
Agencies will also be granted new legal powers to use the orders and prevent them from incurring substantial legal costs if they use the powers ‘reasonably’, a Government source said, adding that this would allow them to take on riskier cases.
The time in which law enforcement agencies will have to review material relating to UWOs will also be extended.
‘Nothing is off the table in terms of who or what we are targeting. We are very clear about that – we are very prepared to do what it takes.’
Ms Truss warned that the conflict in Ukraine was likely to be protracted with the Ukrainians determined to resist their Russian invaders.
‘This will be long-running because the Ukrainians are fighting,’ she told the Sunday Times.
‘We can see they’re very motivated, that they are determined to protect their sovereignty and their self-determination, so this will be a very long-running conflict.
‘And I don’t know how it will play out. But we must make sure that Putin loses.’
Last night Russia was cut out of a crucial global banking system as efforts to hit its economy if it invaded Ukraine intensified.
In a co-ordinated move Britain, the US, Canada and the European Union announced selected Russian banks would be excluded from the Swift global payments system.
At the same time they said the would be imposing ‘restrictive measures’ to prevent the Russian Central Bank from deploying its international reserves ‘in ways that undermine the impact of our sanctions’.
After talking by telephone to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mr Johnson said the West had to do everything possible to change the ‘very heavy odds’ against Ukraine in its struggle against Moscow’s forces.
He confirmed Britain would be sending further arms to the Ukrainians and he said that the financial measures were essential to put pressure on the Kremlin.
‘It is incredibly important for tightening the economic ligature around the Putin regime,’ he said during a visit to RAF Brize Norton.
Earlier German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced he was dropping his country’s opposition to the move removing a major obstacle to international agreement.