LONDON — Britain imposed asset freezes and travel bans Monday on 22 people accused of bribery, kickbacks and fraud in its first use of new sanctions powers to target corruption around the world.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told lawmakers that the sanctions would prevent the U.K. from being used as “a haven for dirty money.”
The list includes 14 Russians implicated in a $230 million tax fraud and three members of the Gupta business family who are enmeshed in a corruption scandal in South Africa. Britain is also sanctioning businessman Ashraf Seed Ahmed Al-Cardinal, accused of stealing state assets in impoverished South Sudan, and individuals from Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala.
Britain previously imposed sanctions as part of the European Union or under the auspices of the United Nations. Since leaving the EU in 2020, it has introduced its own sanctions regime.
The anti-corruption sanctions — imposed in coordination with the United States — complement a set of measures targeting human rights abuses that Britain introduced last year. Both have been labelled “Magnitsky sanctions” after Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in a Moscow prison after exposing a tax fraud scheme involving Russian officials, including those sanctioned by the U.K. on Monday.
The U.K. has used the human rights sanctions against 78 individuals and entities, including senior Saudi intelligence officials accused of involvement in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and military commanders involved in the February coup in Myanmar.
Sanctioned individuals are barred from entering Britain, channeling money through British banks, or profiting from the U.K. economy.
Opposition politicians said the sanctions are welcome but do not go far enough, because they do not target corruption in Britain’s overseas territories and dependencies, several of which are tax havens, or clamp down on dirty money being funneled through London’s financial district.
Labour Party foreign affairs spokeswoman Lisa Nandy said Britain remained a haven for “dark money” and urged Raab to give financial crime investigators stronger powers.
“The current rate of prosecutions for economic crime is … woefully low, as he knows, and to put it bluntly if he’s serious about what he’s saying today he needs to put his money where his mouth is,” she said.