The government has refused to name eight sanctioned oligarchs who bought so-called ‘golden visas’ to live in the UK, under a now scrapped scheme.
Priti Patel has been urged to reveal the identities of the individuals and publish a report on the programme, which was shelved in February as Russia invaded Ukraine.
The ‘tier one visa’ scheme, launched by Labour in 2008, allowed wealthy foreign investors to to gain residency in the UK by pump at least £2m into the economy – but faced criticism for being open to abuse.
This week, Patel’s opposite number Stephen Kinnock, wrote a letter seen by the Guardian which laments the failure to publish a long-awaited report on the scheme. He accused the government of “failing to be transparent” in a move “likely to raise public suspicion” and erode trust.
Responding to calls for the Government to list the names of those who purchased a so-called ‘golden visa’, the Home Office said it does not comment on individual cases, and it has sanctioned over 1,000 individuals and businesses. It said it “moved quickly to sanction those linked to the Putin regime and to ensure that there is no safe haven in the UK for his allies to hide their dirty money.”
The Home Office added it brought in new measures to compel “faceless foreign companies who own UK property to reveal their identities.”
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, oligarchs including Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov, who formerly had ties with Everton FC and before that, Arsenal, were among those who had been sanctioned.
The UK has ramped up sanctions even further, targeting the daughters of Putin and Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.