The document raised concerns about so-called “tier 1,” or investor, visas, which are open to those able to invest $2.7 million in the country, hinting that it plans to study the issue in more detail. Over the weekend it emerged that Roman Abramovich, the billionaire Russian owner of Chelsea soccer club, is experiencing delays in renewing his investor visa.
Since 2014, the British government has been empowered to refuse applicants for these visas if there are reasonable grounds to believe the money to be invested was obtained unlawfully or if there are concerns about the character of investors. After that change, applications dropped by 84 percent.
Now existing visa holders are being checked against the tighter requirements, the government says.
The committee also had harsh words for Linklaters, a prestigious British law firm, that refused to give evidence to the lawmakers over its work on deals involving Russian companies. In the report the committee asked whether such deals had left Linklaters “so entwined in the corruption of the Kremlin and its supporters that they are no longer able to meet the standards expected of a U.K.-regulated law firm.”
In a statement Linklaters said it was “very surprised and concerned” at the criticism, adding that it has the “highest standards of business conduct, ensuring we comply with applicable laws and professional rules, including with respect to anti-bribery and corruption, anti-money laundering and sanctions.”
There was also veiled criticism of Mr. Johnson, who was asked by lawmakers what his department could do to stop the flow of corrupt money. “He appeared to suggest, however, that there was no real role for government in the process,” the report said.
While noting that Mr. Johnson and other ministers were right to assert that they cannot order law-enforcement agencies to investigate individuals without any evidence, the committee added that observing due process “cannot be an excuse for inaction or lethargy.”
Lawmakers noted that Russia itself did not seem overly worried that Britain’s aggressive rhetoric would be put into practice. On March 15, after the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Britain, Russia’s embassy in London drew attention on Twitter to a bond sale by Gazprom, the Russian energy company, with the words “Business as usual?”