Britain no longer wants to be a safe haven for the money of corrupt politicians , public officials and organised crime , as a new law to clamp down on money laundering goes into effect this week .
Officials estimate that around £ 90 billion ($ 127 billion , 102 billion euros ) of illegal funds are laundered through Britain every year and this includes money stolen from the Nigerian treasury .
Now officials will use new unexplained wealth orders (UWOs ), which came into effect this week , to seize suspicious assets and hold them until they have been properly accounted for, Ben Wallace , Security and Economic Crime Minister told The Times newspaper on Saturday .
Wallace said Russian oligarchs suspected of corruption will be forced to explain their wealth .
Wallace said he wanted the “ full force of the government ” to come down on corrupt politicians and international criminals using Britain as a haven.
“ When we get to you we will come for you , for your assets and we will make the environment that you live in difficult , ” he said .
Speaking of Russian involvement, Wallace highlighted the so – called Laundromat case in which ghost companies — many based in Britain — were used to launder Russian money through Western banks .
“ What we know from the Laundromat expose is that certainly there have been links to the (Russian) state. The government ’ s view is that we know what they are up to and we are not going to let it happen any more , ” Wallace said .
“ Beneath the gloss there is real nastiness , ” he said of international crime lords.
“ We are going to go after these iconic individuals, whether they are known about in their local community or known about internationally. ”
UWOs allow the British authorities to freeze and recover property if individuals are unable to explain how they acquired assets in excess of £ 50, 000 .
Wallace said that a lawmaker from a country where MPs do not receive big salaries , who suddenly buys a luxury townhouse in central London, would have to prove how they paid for it .
“ We will seize that asset , we will dispose of it and we will use the proceeds to fund our law enforcement, ” he said .
“ I have put pressure on the law enforcement agencies to use them ( UWOs) soon . ”