Oligarchs’ London mansions are ‘gold bricks to launder money’ says Sadiq Khan as Mayor labels UK refugee response ’embarrassing’

Monday 14 March 2022 8:55 am

London Mayor Sadiq Khan described properties owned by Russian oligarchs in London as “gold bricks used to launder money”.

Repeating his call for some to be used to house refugees from Ukraine, he said it would be a form of “poetic justice”.

He told Times Radio: “I, for some time, with others, have been complaining about those Russian oligarchs close to (Vladimir) Putin, using our city to launder money by buying homes or businesses. And what’s doubly heart-breaking about the homes they buy is they’re left empty for years. They’re not homes, they’re gold bricks used to launder money.

“I think the Government should be seizing them, and before selling them – because they’ll take some time – they should be using them to house those Ukrainians who are fleeing Ukraine, who we’ll be offering a safe haven in London.

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“It’s a form of poetic justice, but also it’s a good use of these many, many empty properties sitting across London simply with dust being gathered inside rather than them being used to house people who need homes.”

UK response

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the UK’s response to the Ukraine refugee crisis has been “embarrassing” compared to that of other countries.

Asked if he would be willing to host a refugee, Mr Khan told Good Morning Britain: “Personally we won’t be able to because of space and other security issues, but I admire the generosity of those Londoners, and we know our city is a very generous city.”

He said the visa system must be simplified as it is “far too complicated for those from Ukraine to come to London, and our country”.

He added: “Councils are ready to step up, hotels are ready to step up, businesses are ready to step up, Londoners are ready to step up.

“The issue now is the delay in the visas but also we need to make sure there’s the right support, the wrap-around care.”

Sadiq Khan

“Many of these people will be traumatised, they need medical support. The children will need spaces in schools. We need to make sure English is available to those who can’t speak English. We need to make sure they can work straight away, those with the skills.

“With the right support, with the visas being sorted out, we should be able to do at least what Germany and France and Italy and Spain and others have been doing. It’s embarrassing when you compare what little we’ve done with most of what our neighbours have done.”

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