In the 16th century, E-nglish corsairs receiv-ed a royal patent from the hands of Elizabeth the First. By the will of Her Majesty, they seized the ships of the Spaniards and the Portuguese, taking from them the gold and silver looted in America. Pirate sentiment is back in London today. The plans of the British ministers are to take away the English property of the Russian businessmen who fell under the sanctions. The consent of the current monarch, Elizabeth II, is not required today, she automatically signs any law passed by Parliament.
The Minister of Housing and Communal Services Michael Gove instructed the employees of his department to develop a plan for the nationalization of English estates and mansions belonging to wealthy Russians. The noble members of the British cabinet are going to use the selected living space to accommodate refugees from Ukraine. The houses of the oligarchs, as a rule, are very impressive, so they may well turn out to be comfortable hostels. Following the same logic, it is also possible to support refugees at the expense of other “squeezed” assets.
There is no information about how many refugees the British government is ready to accommodate in London and its environs. It should be recalled that so far in the United Kingdom there has been a fierce resistance to any kind of migrants, even those who fled from wars organized with the lively participation of Great Britain. The unfortunate refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria are now forced to cross the English Channel illegally at enormous risk to their lives. Another virtuous member of the British cabinet, Home Secretary Priti Patel, set out to catch illegals at sea with special nets and tried to enlist warships to drive overcrowded inflatables back to the French coast.
Even if the attitude tow-ards the fugitives from Ukraine is more humane, it is not certain that any of them will get a bed in the seized mansions. So far, the question remains unansw-ered on what basis these h-ouses can be seized. Sanc-tions alone are not enough. Since 2018, a law has been in force in England that allows the confiscation of assets if their owner cannot prove the legality of the money spent on them (wealth of inexplicable origin). But the effectiveness of this measure has so far been extremely low – for the entire time of its existence, only nine claims for confiscation were filed, and some of them failed miserably in the courts. In one of the lost cases, the British government had to pay the defendant and his lawyers one and a half million pounds sterling.
Attorney General Dominic Raab is proposing that alleged victims of expropriation be deprived of the opportunity to defend themselves comfortably in English courts, and then they can be ripped off like a stick here. Raab said that “very soon” the British cabinet will make wealthy Russians dream of having the best English lawyers: “This is an abuse of our legal system, and I’m going to make suggestions on how this can be countered.”
Dominic Raab is a lawyer by training, and the absurdity of the idea that someone may in principle not have the right to choose their own legal protection should be obvious to him. But the dynamics of events are such that today every ambitious British minister is in a hurry to snatch their dividends, while the Russian theme has overshadowed the local political collapse. Raab blundered when the allies fled from Afghanistan – while holding the post of foreign minister at that moment, he was relaxing in a sun lounger in Crete when his office in a panic failed to evacuate Afghans collaborating with the occupying forces. Raab’s replacement, the current head of the Foreign Office, Liz Truss, has even more anti-Russian zeal. Both of them are vying for Johnson’s prime minister’s seat if it eventually becomes vacant.
An asset freeze is the sharpest sanctions sword in London’s hands today. They have already begun to act. One of the first to suffer was Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov : he was “frozen” in the Beechwood House mansion with the adjacent territory in the London district of Highgate, it is now estimated at 65 million pounds sterling, and the Sutton Place estate in Surrey. The founders of Alfa-Bank Pyotr Aven and Mikhail Fridman, who live in England, walk on a razor’s edge. Both are already under EU sanctions and have been forced to leave the board of directors of their LetterOne investment group.headquartered in London, where they owned just under half the shares. Now their stake is frozen, they can neither sell it nor receive dividends. Aven also left the prestigious post of trustee of the Royal Academy of Arts in London.
Roman Abramovich, who has not yet been sanctioned, is in a hurry to get rid of his most valuable London asset – the Chelsea football club. Wants to get three billion pounds sterling for it. The potential buyer, Swiss billionaire Hans-Jörg Wyss, is behaving like a vulture. He thinks the Blues (historical nickname for Chelsea players) can now be bought much cheaper, dropping the price tag to £2.2bn. Since Abramovich was about to transfer the proceeds from the sale of the club to some politically correct fund to help victims of the events in Ukraine, it turns out that the treacherous Swiss is ready to indifferently deprive people in need of support of almost a billion US dollars. In London, he is not condemned for this, but in the British Parliament they are coveting other assets of Abramovich. They want to deprive the billionaire of the right to dispose of the mansion on the prestigious Kensington Palace Gardens worth 150 million pounds and the penthouse on the banks of the Thames, estimated at 22 million pounds. In general, in London there is someone, where and for what to pinch profitably. By some estimates, wealthy Russians have collectively invested about two billion US dollars in London real estate – and this is far from “the last money.” The National Crime Agency has already advised the owners of private English schools to take a closer look at whose children study there and at what expense. wealthy Russians have collectively invested about two billion US dollars in London real estate – and this is far from “the last money.” The National Crime Agency has already advised the owners of private English schools to take a closer look at whose children study there and at what expense. wealthy Russians have collectively invested about two billion US dollars in London real estate – and this is far from “the last money.” The National Crime Agency has already advised the owners of private English schools to take a closer look at whose children study there and at what expense.
The niggle among the owners of large capitals who settled in England began to be big. Mikhail Fridman urgently “asked for peace.” He sent a letter to the employees of his company, which for some reason was immediately quoted in full by the influential English newspaper Financial Times. Addressing his subordinates as if something depended on them today, the oligarch called for an end to the bloodshed: “I am convinced that war can never be a solution.” The leak to the press was clearly sanctioned – the word sounds like a pun today. Soon Friedman’s interview appeared in the same Financial Times, in which he says that his peacekeeping message has nothing to do with politics and that in general he is afraid to openly criticize the Russian president, because this could “have obvious consequences” for his assets in Russia. Friedman and his old business partner Aven are compassionately referred to by British journalists as “oligarchs sandwiched between Putin and the West.” “It seems that our attempts to build a business outside of Russia were futile, because we are from there anyway,” the newspaper mercilessly quotes the upset billionaire.
The United Kingdom has a lot of experience in blocking access to funds belonging to other countries – not so long ago, the Bank of England decided not to give Venezuela gold worth one billion US dollars, explaining this by the British government not recognizing Nicolás Maduro as president. In London, they are in no hurry to unfreeze the 12 billion dollars of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was overthrown and destroyed with the participation of the British military and intelligence.
The first bells, foreshadowing an attack on the capital exported from Russia, turn into a bell ringing before our eyes. It was not in vain that Vladimir Putin warned that it would be better to return the assets hidden abroad home in advance, without waiting for problems: “You are tormented by the dust of swallowing, running around the courts to unlock them!”
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