The illegal donation from Boris Johnson's Russian donor and a timely bung for Gavin Williamson
Boris Johnson's newfound commitment to tackling Russian money is not all it seems
“If one oligarch feels defamed by another oligarch, it is London’s lawyers who apply the necessary balm to the ego,” boasted Boris Johnson back in 2012.
The then London Mayor urged even more Russian oligarchs to bring their stolen loot to the city, telling the CBI’s annual conference that: “I have no shame whatever in saying to the injured spouses of the world’s billionaires: ‘If you want to take him to the cleaners, darling, take him to the cleaners in London.’”
Johnson’s message was certainly heard. In the years that followed, the number of so-called “golden visas” handed to Russian oligarchs soared, with London’s courts also becoming ever-more frequented by Moscow’s billionaires.
Fast forward a decade and Johnson now claims to be “leading the world” in a crackdown on the very same people he previously urged to flock to the city. And if that weren’t enough, Johnson is also threatening action against the same lawyers he previously praised for taking Russian money.
“The legal profession, everybody involved in assisting in those who wish to hide money in London and assisting corrupt oligarchs have been set on notice that their actions are under scrutiny," Johnson told Parliament this week.
"If they break the law, if they undermine the interests of this country and advance the interests of Putin's war machine, they will pay a price."
However, in reality Johnson’s newfound commitment to tackling dirty Russian money is not all that it seems.