Dirty Russian money buying influence in EU, MEPs warn
MEPs from the main groups in the European Parliament have raised the alarm over illicit Russian money in Europe and its use to influence European politics, according to EU Observer.
The larger, $1 billion scam, which involved fraudulent VAT refunds by the same group of Russian tax officials and mafia enforcers, was documented by Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper, and by the OCCRP, a club of investigative reporters in eastern Europe, EU Observer reports.
The MEPs’ letter to Mogherini on “the laundering of proceeds of Russian organized crime in Europe” said she should propose that EU states impose visa bans and asset freezes on 32 Russians implicated in the Magnitsky affair.
The letter, dated 5 December, was made public on Tuesday (13 December).
Mogherini’s office told EUobserver that “we got the letter and a response will be sent in due course”.
The MEPs’ warning comes ahead of elections next year in France and Germany, where anti-EU parties, such as the National Front in France and the AfD in Germany, both of which stand accused of secretly receiving Russian funds, aim to run for power.
Read alsoGermany demands cooperation from Russia as "question of war and peace" is on tableBritish and German spy chiefs have warned that Russia was trying to sway the outcome of EU votes the same way that it did the U.S. elections.
The EU parliament, in a recent report, also warned that Russia’s anti-EU propaganda campaign was a threat to EU democracy.
"It is time for the European Union to do its part by enacting the will of its members to stop criminals with blood on their hands from reaping the benefits of Europe," said Bill Browder, a British hedge fund manager who was Magnitsky’s former employer, amassed evidence showing that the funds were laundered in several EU banks.
Read alsoInternational community should maintain pressure on Russia until full Minsk implementation – StoltenbergHis campaign has prompted ongoing investigations by authorities in the US, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Moldova, Lithuania, and Poland.
French president Francois Hollande recently said in Berlin that he agreed with German chancellor Angela Merkel that the duration of economic sanctions should be extended for a further six months in January while Italy had been critical of the measures.