April 23, 2024

Sadiq Khan has called for a further clamp-down on property owned by Russians linked to Vladimir Putin.

In a letter to the Housing Secretary Michael Gove, the London mayor wrote ministers should “urgently act” to sell property of “Putin’s cronies” and use the proceeds to help those in need.

City Hall suggested 4,000 homes could be built with the proceeds from selling Kremlin-linked property in the capital.

The government said it has sanctioned 1,700 people and entities.

Mr Khan’s intervention comes a day after the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He called on ministers to “urgently act to seize property which has been bought by Putin’s cronies, so we can use the proceeds of this for the benefit of those in need”.

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In 2022, £1.1bn of property was identified as being bought by Russians accused of corruption or with links to the Kremlin

According to new analysis by City Hall, if the £1.1bn of property identified by Transparency International in 2022 as being bought by Russians accused of corruption or with links to the Kremlin could be sold, it would provide sufficient funding for over 4,000 low-cost homes.

“This could include providing affordable accommodation for some of those Ukrainians who have made London their home after fleeing Ukraine following Putin’s invasion,” the mayor said.

Acknowledging the government has established a register of overseas entities who buy or sell property in the UK, Mr Khan said he remained concerned financial trusts can still be used to mask property ownership.

A spokesperson for the government said it had introduced the largest and most severe package of sanctions ever imposed on a major economy.

“We want to do all we can to ensure those with links to Putin’s regime cannot benefit from the UK property market, which is why we are taking action to clean up the sector,” the spokesperson said.

“This includes a consultation on increasing the transparency of property-owning trusts, shining a light on who truly owns our property. We are considering all responses and will respond as soon as possible.”

Mr Khan also told Mr Gove he was “alarmed to see the government’s announcement on the closure of the Ukraine Family Scheme”, arguing that “Ukrainians still going through unimaginable horror in their home country should be able to join family members already taking sanctuary in the UK”.

However, earlier this week the Home Office clarified: “Ukrainian nationals who would have qualified under the Ukraine family scheme will still be able to apply to Homes for Ukraine.

“Family members who are settled here can also still continue to sponsor a family member to come to the UK under Homes for Ukraine.”

On Saturday hundreds of people marched in London to mark the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.


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