Tighter Conditions for Foreign Investors in UK after Russian Money Laundering Revelations

Foreign investors could soon find it harder to settle in the United Kingdom, as the government is pushing new, tighter regulation in an attempt to tackle money laundering and respond to deteriorating relations with Russia, Bloomberg reports.

Businessmen planning to invest in the UK will be required to prove that they’ve had control of the required 2 million pounds ($2.6 million) for at least two years, rather than 90 days under current rules, or provide evidence of the source of those funds. Investment in UK gilts are excluded from the plan to benefit the British economy, the report says.

The government is scrutinizing the wealth of Russians using London as their base, and lawmakers have called the influx of Russian cash a national security issue. Russia has denied responsibility for the attempted murder of a former Russian spy using a weapons-grade nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury a year ago.

But the UK said it would introduce two new investor settlement routes from March 29, the date the country is set to leave the European Union: a startup visa route for fledgling businesses, and an innovator route for more experienced business people. Applicants need 50,000 pounds to invest and if successful, can apply to settle after three years.

Last year, the U.K.’s foreign affairs committee said in a report that London is being used as a “base for the corrupt assets” of individuals linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin.

“The use of London as a base for the corrupt assets of Kremlin-connected individuals is now clearly linked to a wider Russian strategy and has implications for our national security,” said the report titled “Moscow’s Gold: Russian Corruption in the UK”.

It said that combating dirty money being laundered in the capital by Russians “should be a major U.K. foreign policy priority.”