14 March 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Ministers losing track on Ukrainian refugee visa u-turns
  • Homes for Ukraine: Refugees still trapped in bureaucratic limbo
  • Economic Crime Bill: Lib Dems close ‘Oligarch Loophole’

Ministers losing track on Ukrainian refugee visa u-turns

Responding to Sajid Javid’s confusion this morning over a family reunion route for Ukrainian refugees, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

The Government has u-turned so many times over visas for Ukrainian refugees, it seems even its own Cabinet Ministers have lost track.

Three weeks on, it is unacceptable that the Home Office is still turning away desperate families fleeing Putin’s war, and snaring them in red tape at the border. It is shameful that even Ukrainians working in our NHS cannot bring family members to join them.

The Government must make one more u-turn, and allow any Ukrainian refugee to come to the UK without having to apply for a visa first.

Homes for Ukraine: Refugees still trapped in bureaucratic limbo

Responding to the Government launching the “Homes for Ukraine” website for people to sponsor Ukrainian refugees, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

Families and communities across the UK have been crying out for the chance to sponsor refugees for years. It shouldn’t have taken weeks of appalling humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine for the Government to finally listen.

Even after the Government’s welcome U-turn and side-lining of Priti Patel from this scheme, the vast majority of Ukrainian refugees trying to get to the UK are still trapped in bureaucratic limbo, unable to come here. Michael Gove couldn’t even say when people will start to arrive under his new scheme.

Ministers should do what the British people are urging them to do now: allow Ukrainian refugees to come to the UK today, without first having to apply.

Economic Crime Bill: Lib Dems close ‘Oligarch Loophole’

The Liberal Democrats have closed a major “oligarch loophole” in the Economic Crime Bill after the Government accepted their crucial amendment.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran and Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Chris Fox both tabled an amendment to the legislation which sought to close a backdoor route for oligarchs to avoid meeting crucial anti-money laundering requirements contained within the Bill.

The Bill establishes a register of beneficial ownership for overseas entities. However, as originally drafted, it gives the Government the power to grant individuals – which could include Kremlin-linked oligarchs – an exemption from its registration requirements on the broad basis of “the interests of the economic wellbeing of the United Kingdom”.

The Liberal Democrats warned that this loophole could give ‘carte blanche’ to oligarchs and their enablers to aggressively lobby the Government for exemptions – with the risk that Kremlin-linked individuals continue to operate in the shadows, with no transparency around the ownership of their assets and no disruption to their operations in this country.

This evening, as the bill is fast-tracked through the House of Lords, the Government has confirmed they will accept the Liberal Democrat amendment and drop the loophole from the bill altogether.

Commenting on the news Layla Moran MP, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, said:

This is a good day for all those who have argued that we should be clamping down on Putin’s cronies.

I am pleased that the Government has seen sense on this vital measure and backed Liberal Democrat proposals. It simply would have been unsustainable to pass this crucial legislation without closing this oligarch loophole.

We must be in no doubt, Putin’s cronies and their enablers will be poring over this new legislation looking for ways to get around it. We might have shut this backdoor route – but we should be in no illusions about what they will do next.

So there is still much more to do – starting with using these new powers to catch-up with our allies. We are lagging behind in terms of sanctions when we should be leading the way. It’s time to end the era of Russian interference in the UK, once and for all.

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This entry was posted in News and Press releases.


  • Peter Martin 15th Mar '22 - 12:10pm

    “Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran and Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Chris Fox both tabled an amendment to the legislation which sought to close a backdoor route for oligarchs to avoid meeting crucial anti-money laundering requirements contained within the Bill.”

    Why has it taken the political mainstream, which includes the Lib Dems, until now to do something about this? I know the Lib Dems don’t have the numbers in Parliament but Lib Dems could have at least raised and campaigned on the issues.

    The Panorama program last night on Roman Abramovich was interesting and added some details to what we’d known for years about how he criminally acquired his wealth, some £12 billion plus. BUT, we had known about most of it for years including the theft of a train load of diesel fuel and participation in corrupt political deals which were only possible because he had the backing of those in the Putin regime at the highest level. This had to include Putin himself.

    Roman Abramovich isn’t the only one but he has had the highest profile due to his involvement with Chelsea FC. This should never have been allowed to happen. Neither should he have been allowed to buy up expensive property in London.

    We need to consider legislating so that criminal actions which have taken place elsewhere are also criminal actions punishable by UK law for those wishing to do business or live here.

  • The privitisation of Russian state owned industries under Yeltsin in the 1990s was a chaotic affair. Russia wanted to end the reliance of their industry on state subsidies
    To distribute property quickly and to win over popular support, Yeltsin followed the Czechoslovakia model of privitisation. The Russian government believed that the open sale of state-owned assets, would have likely resulted in the further concentration of ownership among the Russian mafia and the nomenklatura, which they sought to avoid. However, insiders managed to acquire control over most of the assets, which remained largely dependent on government support for years to come.
    Voucher privatization took place between 1992-1994 and roughly 98 percent of the population participated. The vouchers, each corresponding to a share in the national wealth, were distributed equally among the population, including minors. They could be exchanged for shares in the enterprises to be privatized. Most people quickly sold their vouchers for a fraction of their worth. Most shares wound up being acquired by the management of the enterprises. Although the initial privatization attracted widespread popular support given its promise to distribute the national wealth among the general public and ordinary employees of the privatized enterprises, eventually the public felt deceived.
    Yeltsin financed his 1996 election campaign with the distribution of shares in state controlled enterprises in return for loans that eventually saw the consolidation of most state enterprises in the hands of well connected Oligarchs.

  • Ukrainian Refugees

    It is surely time that someone from the political establishment had the courage to stand up and make a clear statement that the UK Government’s policy towards Ukrainian refugees has gone beyond callous indifferent to human suffering into something that (either through neglect or calculation) crosses over into sadism.

    There can be few acts more callous acts than offering sanctuary to terrified, exhausted and desperate woman and children and then slamming the door in their faces when they are within reach of safety.

    But this is what our Government’s is doing by demanding pre-entry visa and systematically failing to provide the facilities, manpower and support necessary to ensure that the visas can be processed effectively. Even allowing for the now legendary incompetence of Patel’s Home Office, it must be increasingly obvious that the UK has adopted a deliberate policy of seeking to pacify public opinion by promising sanctuary while simultaneously sabotaging the chances of those promises ever coming to fruition.

    The depressing reality is that the UK has never wanted to accept Ukrainian refugees – Sunak is reluctant to spend the money and Johnson is afraid of offending the racist, xenophobic minority who he views as critical to his continuing electoral success – and, although public pressure has forced it to soften, the policy of promising big and delivering little hasn’t really changed.

  • @ Lee Allane “The depressing reality is that the UK has never wanted to accept Ukrainian refugees”.

    I suggest it would be more accurate to insert the word ‘Government’ after the word UK in that sentence, Lee. Having hosted a family of Bosnian refugees in the early 1990’s, I can only say how impressed I am these days with what I take to be the attitude of the British general public today, as well as by the devolved administrations.

    Where is Johnson now when there’s no white helmet or yellow jacket to be worn in a photo-opportunity stunt ?

  • Mick Taylor 16th Mar '22 - 7:55am

    I am the son of a refugee and I would not be here if the UK Government had had the same approach in the 1930s. Priti Patel might well be dead if the UK hadn’t accepted her parents as refugees in 1968. It really beggars belief that the daughter of first generation refugees is behaving in this callous way. We should make it a top priority that this dreadful Home Secretary loses her seat when the election. comes.

  • Nonconformistradical 16th Mar '22 - 9:07am

    @Mick Taylor
    “Priti Patel might well be dead if the UK hadn’t accepted her parents as refugees in 1968.”

    Do you have evidence that her parents came to the UK as refugees please? I ask because the expulsion of Asians from Uganda by Idi Amin took place in 1972 and Idi Amin didn’t sieze power in Uganda till 1971.

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