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Putin’s Oligarchs and the London Laundromat

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 08, 2022

In this entertaining and informative video, Oliver Bullough, who has written a pair of books on money laundering (Moneyland and the forthcoming Butler to the World) takes us on a tour of London while telling us how “the most efficient scaled-up money laundering system in the world” has helped Russia’s oligarchs hide their billions and keep Putin in power. Bullough also wrote about the UK’s role in laundering oligarch money recently in The Guardian.

Russia is a mafia state, and its elite exists to enrich itself. Democracy is an existential threat to that theft, which is why Putin has crushed it at home and seeks to undermine it abroad. For decades, London has been the most important place not only for Russia’s criminal elite to launder its money, but also for it to stash its wealth. We have been the Kremlin’s bankers, and provided its elite with the financial skills it lacks. Its kleptocracy could not exist without our assistance. The best time to do something about this was 30 years ago — but the second best time is right now.

We journalists have long been writing about this, but it is not simply overheated rhetoric from overexcited hacks. Parliament’s intelligence and security committee wrote two years ago that our investigative agencies are underfunded, our economy is awash with dirty money, and oligarchs have bought influence at the very top of our society.