Surge of oligarch money into Britain spurs inquiry there

Sergey Stepashin, chairman of Russia's Audit Chamber, met Thursday with his British counterpart, John Bourn, who heads Britain's National Audit Office, the Audit Chamber press office reported. Stepashin is in London for an international seminar, 'Auditing in the 21st Century.'

According to the press service, Bourn expressed Britain's anxiety over what he called a rising inflow of the money of Russian oligarchs as a way of laundering that money, including by the purchase of property. Bourn said his agency, recently granted new authority, was now concentrating on the question of whether this Russian money is 'clean.'

Stepashin, according to the press office, called Bourn's attention to the financial dealings of the London-based United Energy International, whose accounts, he said, illegally received payments for imports of Russian natural gas under a contract with Russia's Defense Ministry. This has cost the Russian government, he said, more than USD 300 million. Bourne said his agency would look into the matter.

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