Anti-corruption campaigners on Tuesday hit out at the UK government’s efforts to tackle graft, claiming they lack bite and need to be more effective.
Redress and the UK Anti-Corruption Coalition said only 27 sanctions had been imposed as part of the UK’s Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions Regulations since it was introduced in September last year.
Fourteen of those were linked to acts of corruption in Russia.
In recent months, however, London has slapped sanctions on more than 1,400 people and businesses linked to the Kremlin since Russia invaded Ukraine.
But the anti-corruption groups warned that these were part of a different sanctions regime and could be lifted when the conflict ends.
“None of the actors sanctioned have been sanctioned under the anti-corruption sanctions regime,” the groups said in a report.
“If the government took a more strategic approach by cross-sanctioning, it would ensure that those involved in serious corruption would remain on the sanctions list regardless of the outcome of the invasion.”
It added: “The effectiveness of the UK’s anti-corruption sanctions regime has been undermined by a lack of designations.”
Failure to take a strategic approach to dismantling corrupt networks and their leadership was also weakening the measures.
Lack of coordination with other countries was similarly proving a barrier to cracking down on issues such as illicit finance and bribery, the groups said.
The United States, for example, had imposed a greater number of sanctions.
The report pointed to problems implementing asset freezes and said UK sanctions had effectively stagnated between September 2021 and February 2022.
It called for greater funding for bodies charged with tackling corruption and to put in place recovery mechanisms to repatriate ill-gotten gains and use them to benefit victims of corruption.
Non-governmental organizations campaigning against corruption and money laundering regularly accuse London of not doing enough to tackle financial crime.
Dodgy Russian cash has flooded into the UK in recent years.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed the government to face up to the issue, sanctioning pro-Kremlin oligarchs and also introducing new legislation for tougher punishments for financial criminals.
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