The United Kingdom has issued sanctions and travel bans against 22 individuals from South Sudan, South Africa, Sudan and Russia for their involvement in notorious corruption.
The development came after the UK parliament on Monday enacted a new Global Anti-Corruption Regulation – a historic law that gives the UK powers to prevent those involved in corruption from travelling to the UK or using its financial system.
Those on the sanctions list include; brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta and their associate, South African businessman Salim Essa, for their roles in serious corruption.
In a statement released Monday evening, UK’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the four were at the heart of a long-running process of corruption in South Africa which caused significant damage to its economy.
The four are facing similar sanctions issued by the United States Treasury in 2019.
They are accused of using their friendship with Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s former president, to profit financially and influence ministerial appointments.
Also on the list is Sudanese businessman Ashraf Seed Ahmed Hussein Ali, widely known as Al Cardinal, for his involvement in the misappropriation of significant amounts of state assets.
“This diversion of resources in collusion with South Sudanese elites has contributed to ongoing instability and conflict,” Secretary Raab said.
“[His] corrupt enterprises in South Sudan and UK assets were revealed in a 2019 investigative report by the Sentry Report,” he told Parliament.
Brian Adeba, deputy director of policy at The Sentry, said, “Sanctioning Al-Cardinal on the same day the UK issued its Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions regime sends a powerful signal to those who act with impunity that they will face consequences when they hold real estate and corporate interests in the UK, and that their ill-gotten gains are not welcome. This is a huge step for peace and accountability in South Sudan.”
In Russia, the sanctions are targeting those involved in the diversion of $230 million of Russian state property through a fraudulent tax refund scheme uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky described as one of the largest tax frauds in recent Russian history.
And in Latin America, the sanctions will target unnamed persons involved in “serious corruption” including facilitating bribes to support a major drug trafficking organisation and misappropriation that has led to citizens being deprived of vital resources for development.
“The UK will continue to use a range of means to tackle serious corruption around the world, including funding the International Corruption Unit in the National Crime Agency,” he added.
According to the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development office, the International Corruption Unit and its predecessors have restrained, confiscated or returned over £1.1 billion of stolen assets, stolen from developing countries since 2006.
The named individuals will no longer be able to channel their money through UK banks or enter the United Kingdom.
The move was welcomed by Sentry experts who in the past, through issuance of research papers, advocated for the enactment of the law and sanctioning of the corrupt.
According to Oliver Windridge, Sentry’s Senior Advisor, the launch of the act is a seminal moment for the UK and its anti-corruption ambitions.
“For the first time, it allows the UK to freeze assets and impose travel bans on those involved in corruption across the world. Whilst the launch should be commended, the work has only just begun for the programme to be truly effective.
“The UK should use this programme to target kleptocratic regimes and their networks who have all too often profited significantly from conflict across Africa and then used the UK as a
safe harbour to stash their illicit wealth,” Mr Windridge said.
The Sentry’s Co-Founder, John Prendergast, said the UK regulation and sanctions can create a real cost for those profiting from human misery and using the UK to stash proceeds of corruption.
“For far too long, London has served as a safe harbour for the illicit profits derived
from some of the world’s deadliest conflicts.
“With this regime, the UK has the power to stem the flow of dirty money from corruption and associated human rights crimes. The UK should now use this new policy tool aggressively to impose targeted network sanctions to create a real cost for those profiting from human misery and using the UK to stash corrupt profits and enjoy luxurious lifestyles,” he said.