The government’s sanctioning of the less-than-magnificent seven of Vladimir Putin’s most useful oligarchs should have happened long ago, when the monster of Moscow first set on his murderous adventures. As it stands, the delays, caused by past complacency about the law, may have allowed some of these extremely wealthy men to move their assets behind the reach of the authorities.
Not, though, Roman Abramovich’s football club, Chelsea FC. He seems destined never to gain any benefit from his stewardship of that important sporting institution, though no doubt other of his more liquid or mobile assets may already have departed the United Kingdom. Still, “we are where we are” as they say in footballing circles, and the government needs to plot its next moves.
The excitingly-named “Oligarch Taskforce”, which sounds like the working title for a TV detective drama, needs to complete its research on the individuals already identified, as well as pursuing fresh lines of enquiry. None of this will be easy. Shell companies, family trusts, offshore accounts, tax havens and jurisdictions with light touch financial regulation and outright fraud are the traditional and formidable obstacles placed in the way.
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