UK sanctions 22 people linked to major global corruption cases

Dominic Raab announced the measures on Monday Credit: PA

The British government has sanctioned 22 people from around the globe who have links to some of the world's most notorious corruption cases, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has announced.

Individuals from Russia, South Africa, Honduras and others were targeted with asset freezes and travel bans on Monday in the first wave of sanctions under the measure.

Fourteen of those hit with sanctions were involved in one of the largest tax frauds in recent Russian history as exposed by the late lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

Taken partly in tandem with measures in the US, Mr Raab said the sanctions target those involved "in some of the most notorious corruption cases around the world".

Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian tax advisor who exposed major corruption at the top of the government and later died in prison. Credit: AP

Mr Raab acknowledged to MPs that the UK, as a global finance hub that has often been accused of turning a blind eye to shady practices, can be a "honey pot" for corrupt individuals seeking to "launder their dirty money".

But he said the sanctions regime will be "an additional powerful tool to hold the corrupt to account".

"It will prevent corrupt actors from using the UK as a haven for dirty money, while combatting corruption around the world," he told the Commons.

The move was part of a wider shift in UK foreign policy aimed at targeted sanctions at individual people involved in corrupt practices or working to undermine UK security.

Mr Raab said the new global anti-corruption sanctions regime would give the government powers to imposed targeted sanctions - and these would not be limited to state officials.

Sudanese businessman Ashraf Seed Ahmed Hussein Ali, known also as Al Cardinal was among those who were sanctioned.

Mr Raab said Mr Hussein Ali had appropriated "significant amounts of state assets in one of the very poorest countries in the world."

Dominic Raab revealed new anti-corruption measures to the Commons on Monday. Credit: PA

Three individuals accused of long-running corruption in South Africa were among those hit with sanctions, as were four Dubai-based businesspeople.

A Honduran congressman accused of facilitating bribes to support a major drug trafficking organisation was also targeted.

So too were a Guatemalan linked to bribery and a treasurer of Nicaragua’s Sandinista party linked to misappropriation of public funds.

Labour welcomed the announcement, but said law enforcement needs the resources to support investigations, saying the current rate of prosecutions for economic crime is "woefully low".

Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said: "If he’s serious about what he’s saying today he needs to put his money where his mouth is."

She also criticised a "tangled network of financial interests and cosy relationships in the heart of Government", citing messages exchanged between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Transparency International UK policy director Duncan Hames said: "Whilst this regime is by no means a silver bullet for tackling the UK’s role as a safe haven for the corrupt, it is a very positive development.

"The use of these powers should send a firm message to corrupt individuals and their enablers who have enjoyed the freedom to travel to and invest in the UK, that they will no longer be welcome here."

US secretary of state Antony Blinken welcomed the move.

An earlier version of this article made reference to individuals from Saudi Arabia among those sanctioned, this was incorrect and has since been amended.