10 Putin allies came to UK on ‘Golden Visas’, Home Office review shows

Putin furious over no contracts at companies

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

A Home Office review of Tier 1 visas found a “small” number of foreign investors were “potentially at high risk” of having links to corruption or organised crime.

Critics warned the rules around the visa were far too lax and open to abuse from criminals and oligarchs.

Mrs Braverman also revealed banks with fewer checks were sought out and “exploited”.

A damning section of the report revealed 10 Russians sanctioned after Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine had Tier 1 visas.

The route “attracted a disproportionate number of applicants” from high risk countries, the Home Office found.

In total, the UK has sanctioned over 1,200 people in connection with Moscow’s bloody invasion of Ukraine.

The Home Secretary said: “The Home Office has found that there are inherent difficulties in an investment-based immigration route based on passive wealth, both in terms of security and economic value.

“I am determined this government will ensure such mistakes are not repeated.”

The review found immigration caseworkers lacked expertise to detect “complex financial” crimes.

Mrs Braverman said: “Risks posed by this route would require specialist expertise in detecting financial criminality.

“Cases linked to historical allegations of corruption or financial crime are complex, may be based on suspicion or allegations only, and not evidenced by criminal enforcement action in the country of origin.

“Complex financial crimes such as corruption and embezzlement can also remain undetected for significant periods of time.”

The Home Secretary said “operational partners” – such as police, the National Crime Agency and MI5 – were reviewing the data.

And Mrs Braverman hinted some could face immigration action. Sources would not speculate on whether this means they could be deported or have their right to remain stripped.

The Home Secretary said that ‘we have already sanctioned ten oligarchs who had previously used this route as part of our extensive response to Russian aggression in the Ukraine’.

But ministers faced fury over their failure to outline how many Golden Visas have been revoked.

Labour MP Chris Bryant, a vocal critic of Russia, said: “”It is clear that golden visas left the UK vulnerable to dodgy and possibly criminal finances.

“Alarm bells should have been ringing ages ago when it became clear so many wealthy people who made their money in hoodlum Russia were intent on getting UK visas.”

The Tier 1 visas were introduced 14 years ago by Labour in an effort to draw investment to the UK.

In 2018 home secretary Amber Rudd announced the review of the scheme after the Novichok poisonings in Salisbury.

Holders of these visas could then apply for permanent residency in the UK, at a speed depending on how much they invested.

A £2m investment allowed an application within five years, shortened to three years with £5m or two years if £10m was invested.

The Home Secretary said in a statement to MPs: “Information on all high-risk individuals has been discussed with the Home Office’s independent operational partners and a range of actions has and is being considered including, where appropriate, immigration action.

“The review found that the particular risks presented by the Tier 1 (Investor) route compared with other visa routes meant that the immigration system was not as well equipped to respond.

“There was evidence of high-risk Tier 1 (Investor) applicants seeking out and exploiting financial institutions that had the weakest Customer Due Diligence controls.

“In a number of instances, financial institutions associated with multiple high-risk migrants at the time have since been issued significant fines by the Financial Conduct Authority.”

Yvette Cooper MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, commenting on the government publishing a summary of the Golden Visa review, said: “This is a totally inadequate response to very serious corruption and criminality concerns about the government’s Golden Visas.

“Ministers have finally recognised and admitted that ten of those sanctioned following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had come to the UK on Golden Visas.

“But they have provided no answers to the most basic questions Labour raised a year ago, including how many Golden Visas have been revoked, how many recipients have been granted citizenship, and what is the security threat arising from serious and organised criminals who used the route to enter the UK.

“It is disgraceful for the Home Secretary to dodge scrutiny in this way. She should come to Parliament at the earliest opportunity, and must publish a far more detailed report setting out the answers to the national security questions arising from this.”

Source: Read Full Article