Russia to Britain: 'You can keep the criminals, but return the money'
There are 61 Russian criminals living in London who have stolen around $10 billion from their home country, according to Russia's prosecutor general, who is demanding that the money should be returned.
"Since 2002, we have made requests to the UK for 61 extraditions. These people are accused or already convicted in Russia for committing economic crimes, the amount of damage is more than half a trillion rubles ($10 billion). This is only direct damage, the amount of money they siphoned off is much higher,” Yuri Chaika told Russia’s NTV channel.
In February, the UK government issued a warning to rich Russians living in Britain that it could seize assets worth more than £50,000 ($70,565) if the origin of the wealth can’t be explained.
"And I assure you, it will be very difficult for many of them to explain their wealth. We very much hope the British authorities will stick to the laws of a civilized state, and not by the principle of stealing the stolen money,” the prosecutor general added.
According to Chaika, Russia is concerned that Britain will pocket the stolen money. “You can keep the criminals, but return the money. This is our money," Chaika said.
London and other British cities have long been a safe haven for Russian runaway criminals. Until the relations between Russia and the UK deteriorated in the recent years, British officials never cared about Russian tycoons hiding in the country since the 1990s.
“They were not concerned before because they approved of the wholesale theft of Russia’s wealth back then, and the Yeltsin regime which facilitated it,” former MP George Galloway told RT in February.
“The British government is acting now for hypocritical reasons entirely based on its conflict with today’s Russian government and President Putin in particular,” he added.
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