Ian Murray said proposed new laws will not be backdated far enough.
04 March 2022
Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary has detailed measures to root out Russian money in the UK in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking at the Scottish Labour conference in Glasgow, Ian Murray said his party supports the work of the UK Government in sanctioning oligarchs linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, but he urged ministers to go further.
He said the Economic Crime Bill, which is due to be debated next week in the House of Commons, should be amended to apply retrospectively to Scotland back to 2004 as it will for England and Wales.
His party will bring forward amendments to the Bill, Mr Murray said – imploring the Government to support the changes.
He told the conference at the Royal Concert Hall: “After years of delay, on Monday the UK Government is finally bringing forward the Economic Crime Bill that will tackle dirty money.
“But as it stands, although the Bill will apply retrospectively in England and Wales to 2004, it will only apply from 2014 in Scotland.
“That means if you’ve been found to have laundered Russian money in Scotland, but had the good fortune to do so before 2014, you’ll be untouched.
“That’s not good enough.
“Labour will introduce amendments in Parliament to backdate the application of this law in Scotland on the same terms as England and Wales.
“We won’t accept criminals getting away with laundering plutocrat money just because it takes a bit of work to dig through records.”
Mr Murray – the only Labour MP in Scotland – also called for the UK Government to bring forward legislation to immediately impose the sanctions it has already announced.
Meanwhile, the Edinburgh South MP said the Scottish Government should undertake a review of the bidders set to lease swathes of Scottish seabed to install windfarms.
The ScotWind project – which will net the Scottish Government £700 million from 17 projects – should not be used to “fund Putin’s war”, Mr Murray said.
Nicola Sturgeon said on Thursday she had instructed officials to look into what the Scottish Government can do under its own powers to crack down on Russian money in Scotland in response the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces last week.
Mr Murray also pushed for an end to Scottish Limited Partnerships (SLPs), which have been seen to aid in the laundering of money, through the forthcoming Bill – every stage of which is expected to be debated on Monday.
The power to legislate on the partnerships is reserved but Mr Murray warned: “The enforcement of it lies with the Scottish justice system.
“Thousands of these partnerships have failed to follow their legal obligations to name a person of significant control and are therefore liable for fines.”