The Palestinians are again fighting for their lives, refusing to live in the prison known…
High-Profile Individuals Accused Of Corruption.
The secret owners of more than 1,500 UK properties bought using offshore firms have been uncovered by a BBC investigation.
The details are featured in the Pandora Papers leak of offshore financial documents and list property with an estimated value in excess of £4billion.
The owners include high-profile foreign politicians, individuals accused of corruption and UK political donors.
Ukrainian billionaire Gennadiy Bogolyubov, who is under investigation by the FBI and had hundreds of millions in assets frozen in a fraud case, owns more than £400million of UK property.
He and his business partner are accused of defrauding the bank they founded of more than £1billion.
Mr Bogolyubov is the co-founder of PrivatBank, Ukraine’s largest lender.
The bank was nationalised in 2016 after regulators found a $5.5billion hole in its balance sheets.
( BBC Panorama, 05.10.2021 ) .. bbc.co.uk
Government Pandemic Committee Was Scrapped Six Months Before Covid.
Boris Johnson scrapped the government’s Threats, Hazards, Resilience and Contingency Committee (THRCC) six months before the coronavirus arrived in Britain so they could focus on Brexit.
The ‘anti-pandemic committee’, which included senior ministers such as Michael Gove, Matt Hancock and Gavin Williamson, was scrapped before having an opportunity to discuss Covid-19.
The THRCC – a sub-committee of the National Security Council – was intended to ensure the UK was ready to deal with a pandemic.
But outgoing cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill advised Downing Street that the committee should be wound down to dedicate the resource to dealing with a no-deal Brexit, which was scheduled for October 31, 2019.
When Johnson arrived at Number 10 in July 2019 he vowed to streamline Whitehall, abolishing the team following the advice, allowing Brexit to be the focus six months before the pandemic broke out.
( Jonathon Read, 29.06.2020 ) .. theneweuropean.co.uk
Foreign Royals And Billionaire Tax Exiles Have Claimed Millions In Taxpayer-Funded Furlough Money.
Beneficiaries behind companies that have drawn on the coronavirus job retention scheme include:
Members of the Saudi royal family.
Qataris behind Harrods and the Ritz Hotel.
The ruler of Dubai.
Tax exiles Jim Ratcliffe and Guy Hands.
Billionaires Evgeny Lebedev, Len Blavatnik and Mohamed Al Fayed.
The British National party.
Tony and Cherie Blair.
Golf courses owned by Donald Trump.
The government first published information about claimants last month, when it released data on the 750,000 businesses using the scheme in December 2020.
Two businesses owned by Lord Ashcroft, the multi-millionaire Tory donor and former Conservative party chairman, claimed £20,000.
A subsidiary of Arconic, the manufacturer of cladding used on Grenfell Tower, claimed up to £500,000.
The revelations, based on analysis of government information, have sparked dismay among MPs at the use of a scheme designed to support struggling businesses and prevent mass unemployment, with one complaining of public money being scattered “like confetti”.
( Rob Davies and Joseph Smith, 19.03.2021 ) .. theguardian.com
UK Residency Offered To The Rich If They Invest More Than Two Million.
The UK’s “golden visa” – Tier 1 (Investor) visa scheme – offered residency to those rich enough to invest £2million or more in the UK.
Holders of the visas were able to apply for permanent residency in the UK, along with their families.
How quickly they could apply depended on the size of their investment.
The Home Office issued 2,581 investor visas to Russian citizens.
It was scrapped by the government on 17 February 2022, amid pressure over UK links to Russia.
Russian companies have also been able to raise large sums in share sales on the London Stock Exchange.
UK Prime Minister On Former Russian MP’s Christmas Cards.
A former Russian MP whose business offers “exclusive access” to UK government ministers has been pictured with Prime Minister Boris Johnson at numerous Tory events.
Sergey Pechinin even put the Prime Minister on one of his Christmas cards with the caption: “We open closed doors.”
He boasted on LinkedIn that his company Realia Capital “can introduce you to executives in the UK government and help to build and maintain relations”.
Mr Pechinin describes himself as a “skilful and effective lobbyist”, who used to be “a senior adviser to a number of federal MPs and senators in Russia”
In recent years, he has met the most senior figures in British politics, including former Prime Ministers David Cameron and Theresa May.
Pictures on Facebook show him with Mr Johnson on at least six occasions – including some taken after he became prime minister in 2019.
He posed next to Mr Johnson at the Conservative Party’s exclusive Winter Party fundraising ball in 2020.
The event earned the party an estimated £500,000 from table fees alone, with guests paying up to £15,000 per table.
Since Mr Johnson became party leader in 2019, its biggest donor has been the Russian financier Lubov Chernukhin, who has given £700,000.
She has been a British national since 2011 and is married to Vladimir Chernukhin, who was a deputy finance minister in Vladimir Putin’s government.
( Martin Williams and Russell Scott, 26.02.2022 ) .. mirror.co.uk
Ukraine’s President Participated In A Network Of Offshore Companies.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky participated in a network of offshore companies, co-owned with his long-time friends and TV business partners.
These firms held assets including apartments near London’s Regent’s Park.
Before becoming president, Zelensky declared some of his private assets.
They included cars, property and three of the co-owned offshore companies.
One, Film Heritage, which he held jointly with his wife, Olena, a former Kvartal 95 writer, is registered in Belize.
But the Pandora papers show further offshore assets that Zelensky appears not to have revealed.
The files reveal Zelenskiy participated in a sprawling network of offshore companies, co-owned with his longtime friends and TV business partners.
They include Serhiy Shefir, who produced Zelensky’s hit shows, and Shefir’s older brother, Borys, who wrote the scripts.
Another member of the consortium is Ivan Bakanov, a childhood friend.
Bakanov was general director of Zelensky’s production studio, Kvartal 95.
All are associated with Zelensky’s home town in southern Ukraine, Kryvyi Rih.
After winning power, Zelensky brought these close allies into government.
( Luke Harding, Elena Loginova and Aubrey Belford, 03.10.2021 ) .. theguardian.com
The UK Government Spend Millions On Media Projects Around Russia.
The British government ploughed at least £82.7million of public money into media projects in countries bordering or near Russia in the four years to 2021.
The projects, which take place across 20 countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, are run through the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF), a cross-government pot of money with the stated aim of preventing “instability and conflicts that threaten UK interests”.
The National Security Council, which is chaired by the prime minister, sets the fund’s strategic direction.
But a parliamentary committee found the CSSF was “being used as a ‘slush fund’ for projects” which “do not meet the needs of UK national security.”
The findings come as tensions between Britain and Russia are high over Ukraine.
The UK has accused Russia of planning to invade or launch a coup in Ukraine to install a pro-Moscow government.
Last month Britain began supplying the eastern European country with new anti-tank weapons.
Some of the UK-funded media projects appear focused on Ukraine.
The project most clearly directed at Russia is the Counter Disinformation and Media Development programme.
It is run around Russia’s western border, from the Baltic States to Central and Eastern Europe, although project documents do not disclose specific countries.
It cost £60.4million in the four years to 2021.
The programme ”supports the government’s Russia Strategy’s objective to protect UK national security by reducing the harm to democracy and the rules-based international order caused by Russia’s information operations”.
It also “complements” the UK’s Ukraine Strategy – and appears to be focused on the country.
The project was launched in 2016 and initially called the Russian Language programme.
It sees the UK “work with a range of partners to enhance the quality of public and independent Russian language media”.
It later expanded to include non-Russian language media.
( Matt Kennard, 08.02.2022 ) .. declassifieduk.org
Oligarchs Dominate The Economy In Ukraine.
Ukraine’s oligarchs are a small group of super-rich businessmen who dominate the country’s economic and political life.
Most got rich in the 1990s by buying state assets cheaply as they were privatised.
Overnight the men became owners of lucrative monopolies.
The oligarchs’ well-funded tentacles now reach deep into Ukrainian society.
Many have their own political parties, and supportive television stations.
Some also have judges and senior civil servants ready to do their bidding if the need arises.
“Nowhere in Emerging Europe, where countries have adopted the Westernising approach, are oligarchs as dominant as in Ukraine,” says Timothy Ash, a strategist for Bluebay Asset Management. “Sure, you have a few, but they do not absolutely dominate the economy as in Ukraine.”
In March 2021, Ihor Kolomoisky, a billionaire who once had business ties with Ukrainian President Zelensky, was “designated” by the United States, with Kyiv’s blessing, for involvement in “significant corruption”.
He and his immediate family are barred from entering the U.S.
( Jonah Fisher, 21.05.2021 ) .. bbc.co.uk
Money Laundering By Some Of The World’s Rich And Powerful People.
Many wealthy individuals and companies from Russia and around the world invest legitimately in UK financial and property markets.
But the anti-corruption organisation Transparency International has identified at least £1.5billion of UK property owned by Russians accused of financial crime or with links to the Kremlin.
A Home Office report says the UK has seen “a significant volume of Russian, or Russian-linked illicit finance”, which is spent on things like luxury property, cars and school fees, and sometimes as donations to cultural institutions, which allow individuals to “launder their reputation”.
When it comes to property, which can be owned through companies rather than in the names of individuals, information sometimes does not come easily.
The Overseas Company Ownership database for England and Wales says only four of 94,000 properties where the registered legal owner is an overseas company, are listed as being owned by Russian companies.
The scale of the use of these offshore companies was revealed in a major leak of almost 12 million documents known as the Pandora Papers in October 2021.
It exposed hidden wealth, tax avoidance and, in some cases, money laundering by some of the world’s rich and powerful people.
Researchers identified more than 700 offshore companies which owned UK properties, and found that 5% of them were owned by Russian citizens.
( BBC Reality Check Team, 11.03.2022 ) .. bbc.co.uk
Claims That Ukrainian President Is A Billionaire With A Villa In Miami.
More than a billion dollars are held in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s accounts abroad.
This was announced by the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of the Opposition Platform – Party For Life Ilya Kiva.
According to him, Zelensky has accumulated $1.2billion in the Dresdner Bank Lateinamerika in Costa Rica during the two and a half years of his presidency.
This money was transferred to the president by Ukrainian oligarchs, such as Rinat Akhmetov, Viktor Pinchuk, and Igor Kolomoisky.
As Kiva noted, replenishment is done regularly, in tranches of $12million to $35million.
And they go through banks like First Union Bank, Deutsche Bank, and Banque Nationale de Paris.
According to the deputy, the movement of such funds would be impossible without the control of the authorities of Germany and France.
But just accounts, as Kiva pointed out, the matter was not limited.
Zelensky managed to buy a villa in Miami for $34million, as well as several sets of jewelry for $5.6million.
( Colin New, February 2022 ) .. shtf.tv
Former Russian Minister’s Wife Is A Tory Donor.
Major political donors to the Conservative Party have invested in properties through offshore companies.
Lubov Chernukhin has given more than £1.8million to the party since 2012.
The Pandora Papers leak revealed the scale of the secret offshore wealth she shares with her husband, a former Russian minister.
It includes a house near Regent’s Park in London now worth about £38million, and a mansion in Oxfordshire bought for £10million.
The properties were secretly acquired through a network of offshore companies.
Russian businessman Victor Fedotov’s companies have given £900,000 to MPs.
He purchased a Hampshire manor house through a network of offshore companies.
Files in the Pandora Papers suggest he made millions from a project that became mired in allegations of corruption.
The Classic Playbook Of Corrupt Elites In Ukraine.
In late September 2021, the European Court of Auditors issued a damning report criticising the ineffectiveness of the European Union’s anti-corruption initiatives in Ukraine.
In order to make genuine progress, the report concluded that the European Commission must work with EU member states to prevent Ukrainian oligarchs and others suspected of grand corruption from traveling or using their assets within the EU.
The Ukrainian oligarchs and corrupt officials who obstruct reforms at home currently enjoy unhindered access to the EU.
This access is enabling corruption in Ukraine and must be targeted.
Rob your country’s natural resources, defraud taxpayers, and milk state monopolies then secretly siphon the proceeds of corruption to the safety of the EU using shell companies together with an army of Western lawyers and other willing service providers.
This is the classic playbook of corrupt elites in Ukraine.
The people benefiting from such schemes don’t need to worry about investing into the education, healthcare, or infrastructure of Ukraine as their family members are usually studying in London, doing their shopping in Vienna, relaxing in France, and receiving healthcare treatment in Germany.
Many simply buy EU citizenship in Cyprus or Malta through entirely legal investment visa procedures.
The ability of corrupt figures in Ukraine to travel, acquire assets, and invest freely throughout the European Union is a key motivating factor for them to continue their damaging practices while also working to prevent any progress towards the rule of law in their home country.
Qatar Ruling Family Avoided Millions In UK Stamp Duty.
The Qatar ruling family bought two of the UK’s most expensive houses in a deal that allowed them to avoid £18.5million in stamp duty, leaked documents show.
The family bought the properties in central London via offshore companies for over £120million and applied to make them into a 17-bedroom “super-mansion”.
The freehold of the properties is owned by the Crown Estate, the Queen’s property empire that is managed by the Treasury and raises cash for the UK.
It said “given the issues raised” it was now looking into the matter.
‘Dark Money’ In British Politics.
The Conservative Party has accepted £2.6million in donations from ‘shadowy’ groups with anonymous funders since Boris Johnson became prime minister.
An analysis by openDemocracy also reveals that more than £800,000 of this was given directly to individual Tory MPs and their local parties, mostly in marginal ‘Red Wall’ seats.
openDemocracy found that British political parties have reported donations worth £12.9million through unincorporated associations in the past five years.
£4.1million of this has been declared since Boris Johnson became prime minister in July 2019, with the majority going to his party.
Most unincorporated associations are innocuous groups, such as small local fundraisers or councillors banding together to pay for staff.
But these structures have also been used to funnel large sums of ‘dark money’ in British politics.
The Democratic Unionist Party’s record-breaking £435,000 Brexit donation came through an unincorporated association called the Constitutional Research Council.
The source of this money has never been revealed.
Donate £250,000 To The Tory Party And Get Access To The Prime Minister.
Leaked documents reveal Tory donors were given access to Boris Johnson’s top team as part of a ‘secret advisory board’ during the pandemic
The wealthy donors were granted privileged access to the Prime Minister, ministers and advisers, according to The Times, where they voiced their ‘alarm’ about the impact of Covid restrictions on their businesses
Their investments included those in property, construction and big tobacco.
A source told the newspaper that Lord Udny-Lister, a loyal adviser to Mr Johnson whose salary is topped up by a Tory donor, implied to the secret advisory board that their concerns about Covid restrictions and requests for them to be relaxed would “go straight up to the PM”.
As well as a presence on the board, they were also reportedly given contact details for ministers and advisers – which some used to lobby the Government – as well as advice applying for appointments and lucrative public contracts signed off by Mr Johnson himself.
One of those on the advisory board is dual national Lubov Chernukhin, the 50-year-old wife of President Putin’s former deputy finance minister.
Responding to the report in The Times, SNP Deputy Westminster Leader, Kirsten Oswald MP said: “Westminster is engulfed in sleaze, corruption and criminality, the Tory cost of living crisis is spiralling out of control, and his (Boris Johnson) reckless hard Brexit has inflicted billions of pounds of damage to Scotland’s economy.”
The Times reports that multi-millionaires were able to sit on the board if they made a £250,000 donation to the Tory party.
( Daisy Stephens, 20.02.2022 ) .. lbc.co.uk
Billions Of Tax Lost In The UK Through Avoidance, Fraud And Shifted To Tax Havens.
The amount of tax lost in Britain through non-payment, avoidance and fraud has increased to £35billion, according to official figures.
HM Revenue and Customs said the tax gap – the difference between the expected income for the exchequer and actual receipts – was estimated to have jumped by about £2billion in the 2019-20 financial year from the period a year earlier.
It said the figure represented a 5.3% shortfall of theoretical tax liabilities due, compared with 5% in 2018-19.
Campaigners said the amount of tax lost to fraud, based on the HMRC figures, was at least £15.2billion, but that billions of pounds more were likely to have been shifted away from the UK to tax havens by multinational companies.
( Richard Partington, 16.09.2021 ) .. theguardian.com