Oliver Bullough spoke on Dirty Russian money with Ian Rankin at Edinburgh book festival 2022, ad his new book Butler to the World.
In the 1990s journalist Bullough worked in Kurdistan and Russia – when there was huge hope in the east. Then he was in St Petersburg, two weeks before Putin, who has transformed Russia in his own image – with rigged elections, war – tycoons, tax dodgers and criminals.
Russia Oligarchs transformed London as supposed “philanthropists and wealth creators”,. So what went wrong? – the answer is to follow the money. There are Kleptocracy tours London to West London, Eton square, Belgravia.- who store their great wealth in offshore shell companies, 20 billion is hard to spend, and they migrate around the world…
*The Suez Crisis 1957
And the loss of empire. Before pound sterling was the dominant currency, after it was the dollar. Before during the empire. Britain had been an oligarchy and sold expertise to others. Afterwards the Dollar became the main currency for financing trade.
A large part of the world is not accounted for – hard to hide wealth.
*One Trillion in British and Scottish shell companies in Edinburgh Britain then had a special role protecting illegal wealth –defamation laws. Britain began to protect illicit, unexplained wealth. – they donate and are donors for universities. Here UK we don’t investigate financial crime and agencies are not funded. There are no rules…..less regulated skulduggery
The City of London has great loopholes, and is known as the London Laundromat. Foreigners break laws elsewhere, and their money is not safe in these territories.
The Offshore market – was 4B in the 60s: 41B in 80s: and 3 trillion now
Accounting money is like a “Sponge through a sieve– which splinters into thousands of tiny single cell organisms.” With massive online gambling, and Euro dollar
Countries became independent – Caymen islands, British Virgin islands, and were reinvented as shell companies, and worlds biggest tax havens. With secrecy and tax free. Private fund Ltd. Partnerships are less regulated.
One trillion dollars has been stolen from Russia. There has been enormous crime done to victims all over the world.
Roger Mullen SNP mp – worked to try to close loopholes. An Economic crime bill 2016 under Cameron didn’t go far enough. Also the Russian Report was delayed and redacted - about potential Russian interference in Brexit, and elections
Questions? Have any countries resisted? – America quite good, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada,
Armies of lawyers write all the rules. Non Dom status and investor visas. Unexplained wealth. We can’t do anything unless everyone does something? Is this true? Can we not investigate anyone who doesn’t work but has huge unexplained wealth?