Political

Davey: Use ‘oligarch tax’ to insulate the UK from Putin’s gas price spike

A Liberal Democrats press release says…

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey has called for an ‘oligarch tax’ to offset increased gas prices at a time when households are already facing a cost of living crisis.

The Liberal Democrats said this would ensure that Putin’s cronies and Russian energy companies foot the bill for any gas price spike following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The oligarch tax would comprise of two elements:

  • Freezing and beginning the process of seizing the assets of Putin’s cronies who have money and property in the UK, using Unexplained Wealth Orders.
  • A windfall tax on oil and gas super-profits, including those of Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom, whose trading arm is based in London. Gazprom recently announced a £179m dividend. This can then be used to reduce UK dependency on Russian gas.

The government announced reforms this week to Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) aimed at making it easier to seize suspicious assets, including of oligarchs linked to Putin’s regime. The Liberal Democrats are urging the Government to make clear that any proceeds recovered using UWOs will be used to support those most struggling with their energy bills.

The ‘oligarch tax’ would be used to fund support to help the most vulnerable struggling with their energy bills. This includes the expansion of the Warm Home Discount to all those on Pension Credit and Universal Credit and doubling it to £300, as well as the doubling of all existing Winter Fuel Payments. Alongside this, money from the tax would be used to kickstart a new UK-wide energy efficiency programme, aiming to reduce dependency on Russian gas by making homes cheaper to heat, while cutting bills for millions.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey commented:

While British families face more cost of living misery, Putin’s cronies have been getting away with it. It is Russian oligarchs and energy companies who must foot the bill for any gas price spike following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The government must immediately sanction Putin’s cronies who have money in our country and begin the process of seizing their assets, so we can recover the cost of this crisis from those who have links to Putin. Meanwhile, Russian-owned energy companies who are profiteering from this crisis must be subject to a windfall tax.

An ‘oligarch tax’ will send a clear signal to Putin that we will take tough measures to combat his aggression – and insulate the British public from any side-effects.

Notes

Liberal Democrats are calling on the UK Government to begin the process of seizing the assets of Putin’s cronies who have money and property in the UK.

Transparency International UK have identified £1.5 billion of property in the UK bought with suspicious Russian wealth. Unexplained Wealth Orders can be used to begin the process of recovering assets, and the authorities which can issue them include the National Crime Agency and HMRC.

The Government announced on Thursday 24 February accelerated reforms to Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs), which are aimed at making asset seizure easier.

Liberal Democrats propose the accelerated passage of the Registration of Overseas Entities Bill and the Economic Crime Bill, which will provide greater transparency and beef up the resources available to enforcement agencies going after suspicious wealth.

Liberal Democrats are urging the Government to make clear that any proceeds recovered using UWOs will be used to support those most struggling with their energy bills.

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