Tackling financial and related crime

I am keen to see what more we can do to protect elephants from death by poachers. Like many of my fellow countrymen and women I feel angry about the way these great animals are being killed to lay hands on their tusks.

I am also keen to see proper action taken against those who make big money from drug pushing, illegal arms dealing and other crimes and then seek to introduce the money into western markets. They seek to disguise it so they can enjoy the proceeds of making money out of others’ misery.

This is all topical again with campaigns to ban the trade in old ivory works of art, and to freeze the accounts of certain rich Russians coming to London and investing.
Today I would like to hear your views on how we can tackle the underlying problem of serious crime, and how we should respond to calls to ban more trade and more people in the UK.

The trade in works of art from old ivory is conducted in London as well as in other advanced centres. The traders are meant to study and catalogue the items carefully, to avoid offering owners of recent ivory a way to release money from their holdings. There is plenty of legitimate ivory around. Every elephant years ago dying of natural causes may have surrendered tusks on death that were in some cases turned into works of art. What we wish to stop is the barbarism of killing elephants today for their ivory.

Would banning all sales of all ivory in the UK make a difference? Sales of old ivory items will continue in other world centres legally, and illicit sales of ivory items will doubtless continue against the law here at home without the benefit of so many experts trying to ensure the items are from ancient ivory. Shouldn’t more be done to assist the countries where elephant poaching continues? Isn’t the main issue an enforcement one in the places where elephants still live? It seems to me an ivory ban needs to be global to make a real impact. With a global ban then all ivory trading would be a crime and make it that much more difficult for the poachers to convert their winnings to cash.

When it comes to the issue of rich Russians, the UK needs to make clear it is not against people because they come from Russia, and is not arguing that rich Russians are a unique category that contains more criminals than other groups of rich people from other countries. The Foreign Secretary is right to stress that Russians are welcome here as visitors and investors. The overwhelming majority of Russians like any other nationality obtained their money by hard work and enterprise and have a right to its safekeeping where they choose to live and invest. Many of the Russians here in the UK are opponents of Mr Putin, not trusted allies of the Russian government.

Of course the UK is also right to make clear we do not welcome murderers, money launderers and other criminals. We need to check the origins of large fortunes when they first arrive in the UK, as the comprehensive Money Laundering laws require banks and other financial institutions to do when they first accept a deposit or an investment sum from any new client. The government has powers to demand a person to explain where they got their wealth from. If proper money laundering checks are made on first entry of money into the system the UK authorities should know the answer and should expose the crimes before the money is ever accepted as a legal deposit.

None of this should be directed to most UK people who save out of net income or out of selling capital assets they own, sending cleared funds from one regulated account to another. All such transactions are visible to the UK tax authorities.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

69 Comments

  1. Mark B
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Would banning all sales of all ivory in the UK make a difference?

    As America found out with prohibition, it won’t work ! The only way to stop this is to impose a world wide ban on the sale of ALL ivory. If people already have it in their collections, they must register it and, be told that they cannot sell or trade in it. Upon their deaths it can be passed to their direct descendants, but they too cannot sell it.

    Russians are not the only people bringing in dirty money in. The Chinese, Europeans, Americans (North and South), Africans and the Middle East, others Asians and those from the Indian Subcontinent. All going into the property market. One way or another London is built on funny-money. This may come as an unpleasant surprise to our kind host but not to many here I am sure. We in the ‘real world’ do not have the luxury of living in a bubble. 😉

    Sorry.

    • Spratt
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      There is a difficulty in that many antique items include ivory in their composition. Would you prohibit the sale of old pianos? Are 18th century miniatures painted on ivory to become an under the counter commodity because they can’t be sold legitimately? There would have to be some definitions and exclusions.

    • eeyore
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      “As America found out with Prohibition. . .”. The lessons of Prohibition seem particularly difficult for governments, which always contain bossy people who adore banning things.

      Western drugs policy for nearly a century could have been purposely designed to funnel tsunamis of tax free money into the coffers of the wickedest and most ruthless of mankind. It has also filled the jails, divided societies and criminalised, alienated, ruined and sometimes killed the young.

      British politicians apparently still feel there are no votes in revisiting drugs policy. I suspect they are mistaken.

      • Anonymous
        Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

        Total rot.

        The vast majority of people do not take drugs so the policy has been a success.

        Legalised drugs will need to be taxed and if not then why not ?

        Criminals will always find ways to make money – this will be by the tax free route.

      • Mockbeggar
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

        I quite agree, eeyore, that anti-drug legislation and enforcement has been an utter failure in spite of the curious rebuttal by Anonymous.

        Illegal drug dealing is highly profitable or there wouldn’t be so many drug dealers world wide. It wouldn’t be profitable if addicts were able to be prescribed their drugs from approved and licensed clinics that could offer rehabilitation services and where the drugs would not be adulterated with dangerous substances to ‘cut’ their purity.

        Not only is drug dealing by criminals dangerous to the addicts and users, but the high cost of illegal drugs (which in themselves are not expensive to produce) drives end users to crime in order to pay for the habit.

        There are many farmers in Afghanistan and elsewhere whose entire livelihood is dependent upon growing poppies, but we go to war to destroy their crops and so drive them into the arms of the Taliban or worse.

        If people wish to ingest drugs, that is their affair, not mine. What I do object to is the fear of being mugged or burgled by a drug user who is desperate to pay for his next ‘fix’ or to pay off a belligerent dealer, or the fact that retail prices are higher than they need be because retailers have to cover the cost of petty shoplifting by drug users.

        The principal difficulty of abolishing the illegality of drugs is that an entire industry has grown up, primarily in the Americas, of drug ‘enforcement’. The organisations involved have, like any organisation, a keen interest in self-preservation as billions of dollars are thrown at them every year by, indirectly, taxpayers.

    • Andy Marlot
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      Absolutely correct. The biggest criminals on Earth are based in London, they built it as their financial centre. They are, of course, above the law because they own it. To single out Russians just because of the ludicrous accusations by the British government is simple propaganda.

      • Edward2
        Posted March 18, 2018 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

        Ridiculous slur.
        Have you any idea how many laws regulations and codes of practice apply to those that work in the vital sector that is called financial services?

    • Stred
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      When it became obvious that foreign, mainly East European mafias were operating in the UK, instead of the police giving up and accepting that the victims were mainly foreign and perhaps the murders were inter mafia, they should have talked to the community and clamped down on it. The Home Office should have instigated this and controlled entry and exit of the thugs. At least now the person responsible seems to realise the problem. Unfortunately she is taking the international line and using sanctions on mainly legitimate trade.

    • Woody
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      In the real world most people realise that to ban something you have to start somewhere. It seems sensible that the UK should start by banning the market in such items as ivory, then we will have set an example to the world, and in that position we could press for a world wide ban.
      Its clear that money laundering is a world wide issue also. I can see you do not agree that a certain politician has again taken an opportunist view by “demanding” that russian money no longer be allowed to have political influence. I assume that the same politician will also demand that russian controlled media outlets are not allowed to pay for our politicians and their bed fellows to promote their biased UK view on matters … I doubt that, as he has shown that he has to date parroted the views of the russian ambassador, until exposed as a hypocrite.

      I’m only sorry for the victims.

    • dennisambler
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      impose a world wide ban on the sale of ALL ivory.

      Then there will be a black market. The destruction of hundreds of tonnes of ivory was counter productive, it should have been released onto the market to kill the price.

  2. alan jutson
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Surely the foreign criminal (with a record of such) coming here should be stopped at immigration and refused entry.

    Do we not pre screen arrivals from all over the World, to see if anyone with a substantial criminal record is trying to enter our Country ?

    If not why not!.

    Surely that would be common sense, refuse them entry at the border, and send them straight back, do not let them enter at all.

    Just look at how many foreign criminals we have in our prisons, who have carried on their trade, and then committed crime in the UK.

    As long as you let them in, they will continue.

    • rose
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 1:14 am | Permalink

      Curious how criminals and terrorists are allowed in but not people with the wrong opinions. Four people have been banned from entry recently who were not criminals or terrorists. We are now regarded as an authoritarian communist state by Americans and other Europeans.

  3. Marjorie Baylis
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Regarding data protection I am finding this a blessed nuisance as a regular holder of fundraisers for the Conservative Party mostly with members, who presumably in most cases, want to be part of Party in its fullest sense and know what is going on locally. I do not share my data, carefully built up over years, always send it out BCC… does such sweeping legislation have to apply to such things?

  4. Bryan Harris
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    While we see a decrase in morals, we will never tackle the big problems – Ye Gods, we can’t even do anything about the lesser crimes of stabbing and burglary….
    With the Cof E now advocating surrender on all moral fronts, there is no lead in getting to grips with our behaviour.
    Without sunday schools, there are no places where morals can be taught to kids, and without morals, you get chaos at every level of society – This is one other thing we can thank the soul-denying socialists for, by attacking the established order, they have destroyed our ability to act with morals… especially since pc has overwhelmed us…
    Start teaching morals in school….NOW

    • Peter
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

      Bryan,

      Unfortunately British politicians ” don’t do God”.

      American paleoconservatives are more concerned with values and morality. Over here separation of church and state is the order of the day.
      Bentham’s utilitarianism – no moral judgement. Cultural Marxists push this along with the breakdown of family values and the promotion of discord.

      • Bryan Harris
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:48 am | Permalink

        .
        Agreed Peter – and that’s why this country needs to have a decent moral code…. for the socalist establisment doesn’t have one, far from it – they would lead us all into hell, with their perverted ways.

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    “Of course the UK is also right to make clear we do not welcome murderers, money launderers and other criminals”

    But under the agreement with the EU (and the ECHR) we seem to be agreeing to do exactly this (for the transition period at least) – and will not even deport when caught.

    Meanwhile some good news in that May seems to be dithering on her “let’s have more religious schools” and the “50% maximum limit no more” agenda. The last thing we need is more teaching of irrational and (often blatantly racist) religions and thus more damaging cleavages in society. Children are children, they are not born with particular religious beliefs and should not be indoctrinated with them, if at all possible.

    • Norman
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

      LL: You are right about ‘religions’ (plural), but wrong about the irrationality of faith. Your materialistic recipe was tried in Russia, and failed – except that it left its own trail of destruction. Children are indeed children, and deserve to be taught about the love of God and the depravity of man. Otherwise you will end up with them running amok, just as many are doing. Spurn the sanctity of life from the womb, and the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman for life – leading to many broken hearts because of parental failure, and you will end up with a nation with no moral compass, utterly lost, and destined for terminal decline – indeed, very rational!

  6. alan jutson
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Afraid the ease of electronic transfer of cash has made life easy for the money launderers, scammers, thieves, muggers, drug lords, and financial fraudsters and the like.

    The ease with which you can transfer money at the touch of a few keys, has outgrown any sensible REAL SECURITY to police or control it.

    Trick or force a person into revealing a simple code, steal their phone, and a whole life savings can then be accessed to be stolen.

    Banks do not seem to have any desire to help trace the transaction trail, they simply blame the victim, or hide under the DATA protection Act.

    Yes with the disappearance of cash we have stopped the old fashioned Bank Robber, but we have bred a whole new population of electronic criminals who’s financial take each day, far, far, exceeds anything that has gone on in the past.

    Years ago when in business I was made aware by the Banks how much credit card fraud occurs each day, it was millions then, goodness knows how much it is now.

    Now the simple electronic transfer cat is out of the bag, I do not know what the solution is, but a start would be to make the Banks keep a record of ALL TRANSFERS to and from any account, which would then be available to the police, and for the Police to take such crime seriously, because at the moment they do not, indeed I would go as far as to say they do not seem interested at all.

  7. Anonymous
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    – prosecute drug users. Anyone would think cannabis has been legalised around here. They are NOT victims. The war against drugs has never been fought.

    – Ivory. Is there no way of cultivating it in laboratories and flooding the market ? Burning existing ivory or otherwise taking it out of circulation only pushes up the black market price and the incentives to kill the remaining elephants.

    I’m afraid elephants are a lost cause and can only be kept in guarded reserves.

    – Russian money. Why not every other country that brings dodgy money to London ? Our city is now kept alive on the stuff.

    The big problem is small scale fraud. One suspects the whole London property market is pumped up on it. Dodgy solicitors, lenders, liar loans. We wondered how the people who bought our London home were paying for it. We soon found out when one of our credit cards was sent there by mistake ! It was sent without special security because – well – my little cul de sac didn’t used to be that type of area. It certainly is now !

    The police nor banks bother prosecuting frauds on cards below £10k btw.

    No government wants a collapse in the London housing market so this debasement of our once trustworthy nation will go on until world markets rumble it and we lose our reputation.

  8. Peter
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Three topics in one post – ivory, drugs and rich Russians. Where to begin?

    Drugs has arguably the greatest impact on British society. Penalties for supplying drugs seem small. Prison sentences in the UK are already soft and can be halved by not causing trouble during the sentence. The Philippines have a different approach to drug the dealers but I cannot imagine anything like that being introduced here.

    Britain turns a blind eye to dodgy money. ‘No questions asked’ is the policy. Even lawyers are keen to bring libel cases in the UK for parties based outside. They get big fees and the foreigners hope to benefit from tougher laws even the parties are based outside our borders. Our professionals are biddable.

    The London property market high end is now a sort of overseas cash deposit box for all sorts of foreign criminals. The ability to hide ownership behind various legal trusts and overseas companies encourages this.

    The ivory market is on a lesser scale than the two previous behaviours. Laws could be enacted to cover this country but business might move elsewhere. Auction houses may complain about loss of business.

  9. Lifelogic
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Generally speaking money is far better in the hands of individuals rather in the hands of governments. People nearly always use or invest it better in the end. Clearly there are some exceptions such as drug pushers, illegal arms dealers and the likes – but not that many.

    The attack on dubious wealth will probably cause more harm than good, cost a lot of money, generate essentially parasitic jobs for many, reduce the normal tax take and catch or inconvenience many innocent people in the trawl net.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      If they are drug dealers or illegal arms dealers they should surely be charged and put in prison anyway.

  10. Epikouros
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately many laws criminalizing actions have more adverse unintended consequences than the behaviour they are intended to suppress. Further laws are often enacted not as is purported for the good of society but in the interests of sections of society that have vested interests in seeing them enacted. Coupled with not even the best of law enforcement agencies not being especially competent or efficient in enforcing those laws. The mediocre and worst agencies are not only very incompetent but highly corrupt as well. Just as damaging are the means employed to track, apprehend and punish offenders are riddled with inconsistencies, open to misuse and abuse(the innocent are having their civil liberties and human rights curtailed either by accident or design) and corruption.

    The law against wild animal poaching is one that few could find fault with but that cannot be said of those who are charged with enforcing it. The enforcement agencies are in countries that have abysmal record for competence and honesty when it comes to stopping criminals and those who purchase the proceeds of their crimes. So there is little we can do other than bewail and rant against those who do the poaching and those who buy the elephant tusks and rhino horns.

    Similarly internet fraud which is outstripping all other crimes perpetrated against personal property is fraught by the fact that criminals by and large live in countries that have dysfunctional enforcement agencies. Targeting those who live in countries with better enforcement agencies but are mostly impotent to do anything about it. Ironically most of the victims are not blameless as they are gullibly relieved of their money either by being stupidly thoughtless or greed. Indeed some are vulnerable people but they are not the majority.

    The laws against drug supply and use are as crass as the one enacted in the USA against alcohol in the early part of 20th century which when common sense asserted itself was repealed. The puritan, authoritarian and the busybody elements of society forced through the legislation only for it to be found that the unintended consequences were more costly, less controllable and in other ways pernicious than that which it had been designed to stop. It is no less true than the laws in place today or in the pipeline against drugs, prostitution and pornography. In fact we have many laws, rules and regulation that do us more harm than good that we would better off if they had never reached the statute books.

  11. duncan
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Your aims are laudable but we don’t care any more. We have witnessed since 1998 some of the most appalling criminality take place in Britain and be allowed to take place with complicity of the British state. I suspect you know exactly what I am making reference too.

    Why should we care? We watch while the State and those who are employed by it refuse to execute their professional duties for political and cultural reasons and you expect us to care?

    Most ordinary people are sick and tired of this liberal left state infrastructure and the culture’s it created

    Crime is only what the State wants it to mean.

    We certainly don’t care about Russian money flowing into London. That’s a concern for government not for the mere mortal.

    We know the modern state (infected by a liberal left poison) has decided to ditch morality, truth and decency. Political convenience and the destruction of peoples freedoms is now the driving force of all political decision making

    People are sick and tired of this exhausting liberal left bombardment. Putin isn’t the problem. Liberal left politics is the problem

    • Timaction
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. Double standards and hypocrisy where laws and procedure do not apply to some minority sections of our society that others would face the full force of the law. Everyone is aware and talking about it, except the msm and the bubble dwellers.
      Political correctness and authoritarian equality legislation, ending free speech for English people only!

  12. JJE
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    When I gifted my daughter a relatively modest amount towards her flat purchase the source of every penny was queried in tedious forensic detail.
    As far as I am concerned it’s just theatre and the wealthy corrupt money flows into London as much as ever. It is a source of shame that it takes the FBI to enforce our laws.
    As an aside it all flows through the banking system and repressing cash payments by withdrawing the £50 note is taking away our freedom to achieve no good purpose.

  13. Lifelogic
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    “Tax hike is no answer” says the telegraph leader today.

    The tax burden is at about its highest for decades. It is absurdly complex, which is yet another damaging cost on the productive. It damages growth, kills jobs, deters investment, makes the wealthy and hard working leave and is killing the future tax base.

    When will the broken compass Hammond just go? You cannot tax “profits” that are not even being made (as he is) for very long. He have a system of asset confiscation and not an honest tax system – it is totally misguided and not sustainable.

    Also an excellent piece by Tom Welsh “Town Planners will keep us stick at traffic light if they can get away with it” Yet another idiotic tax on the productive.

  14. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    I wondered if there was some way if permanently staining the tusks so it made them unattractive to buyers. Just an idea.

  15. Dave Andrews
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I would like to see a rule put in place that requires the owner of residential property to be a natural person. If a property changes ownership, stamp duty is paid.
    When properties are wrapped in an off-shore company, the company can be sold on with no stamp duty being paid. When the property is very high value, it is worth it to do this.

  16. woodsy42
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Money laundering rules as currently applied are a curse on ordinary honest people. We don’t have ID cards in the UK yet banks and financial institutions demand photo ID and utility bills to carry out day to day transactions. Not everyone has photo ID! Meanwhile criminals with massive cash funds can simply work around the system and lie – because they are criminals – and the lack of a utility bill won’t stop them.
    Prohibition does not work, whether alcohol, drugs or ivory. In all cases legalise and regulate trade to remove the criminal profits. Also stop the idiotic waste when authorities destroy piles of illegal poached ivory, it’s simply insulting to the animals which have been killed anyhow – sell it and sell ivory from naturally dead animals then use the money to catch the poachers! It’s not rocket science to chemically mark what is legal.

  17. hefner
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Expert Market, a British research site, has put together a study that showcases the best countries to base oneself if one wants to enjoy the many perks of being one’s own boss. Comparing eight factors (*) across 57 countries, the Top Ten are:
    Hong Kong
    USA
    South Korea
    UAEmirates
    United Kingdom
    Spain
    New Zealand
    Estonia
    Bulgaria
    Czech Republic
    (*) cost of living, income tax rate, access to credit, access to internet & Internet speed, transport network, free WiFi availability, ease of starting a business, cost of a coffee (!).

    Looking at these results (UK in fifth position), I cannot comprehend the usually miserabilist mood of this blog, which to me at least looks full of losers!

    • libertarian
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

      hefner

      Maybe because they looked at the “perks” but not the prohibitions, rules, costs, interference and the vitriol suffered by people who have the temerity to build businesses in the UK

      • hefner
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

        Lib,
        Maybe because you look at the prohibitions, rules, costs, interference here in the UK without really considering what the situation really is in the rest of the world (maybe too encompassing), in most developed countries? Do you know how long it would take and how much it would cost to create a “start-up company” in most of continental Europe? You might know as I understood you were starting something in France. Is it so much better over there?
        You say the situation is presently bad in the UK. One just has to hope it will improve in the coming years.

    • Anonymous
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

      No medals for coming fifth. 🙁

  18. The Prangwizard
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Dirty money comes here because it has been made welcome by government and the City. As I have mentioned before our nation has been prostituted by our leadership.

    This kind of thing is the natural consequence and it makes me bloody angry that it has been allowed and that it has had so many weasley apologists.

  19. A different Simon
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    The U.K. has been aggressively marketing itself as a centre for money laundering for at least the last 10 years .

    It has been the policy of successive governments .

    There is no will to do anything about this trade because all it would do is cause the money elsewhere .

    The suggestion that HM Govt clamp down on money laundering is about as laughable as the Premier League’s “fit and proper person” club ownership criteria .

  20. William Long
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    I can see every point in banning sales of new ivory and this as to include sales of ivory where the elephant has died of natural causes because it is just to difficult to distinguish between the products of legal and illegal death.
    However, I can no point at all in banning transactions in ivory items fabricated more than say 50 years ago with a demonstrable provenance.
    With regard to rich Russians it is worth remembering that many of them come here because they fear intimidation in their own country, though one needs to keep in mind the distinction between persecution and prosecution.

  21. Tad Davison
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I used to campaign on Law and Order issues, and would lobby MPs at Westminster at my own expense – until I realised the futility of it all. Trying to get politicians to realise that the people are being let down by their inadequacies, is like trying to wade through treacle.

    My efforts were founded upon an irrefutable premise, that by its very definition, an effective deterrent deters. That way, no-one becomes a victim of crime, n0-one goes to prison, the tax-payer then saves a fortune, and the rest of us can live in peace. I even had one former Home Secretary (whom I usually cannot stomach) accept that as with all the best deterrents, they are cost-effective because we don’t have to use them.

    Some years ago, I was a guest on the ‘Kilroy’ programme, and on that occasion, it dealt with so-called ‘Joy riding’ (car theft to everybody else). A man asked a persistent car thief, if he knew he would get ten years in prison the very next time he was caught in a stolen car, would he still risk it? His reply was short and unequivocal – No, he would not. So the problem would thus be solved, no innocent lives would be endangered by his recklessness, and it wouldn’t have cost a penny.

    There, writ large, is the principle we must follow if we are to solve this scourge or any other scourge, but there are far too many vested interests at play, and far too many obstacles are placed in the way of progress by the likes of lawyers with an over-developed sense of their own worth, and do-gooders with whatever fanciful notions pervade the cranial space they have between their ears.

    It takes guts to be firm and do the public’s bidding, but when was the last time we saw a politician courageously fighting for their best interests, rather than their own best interests, or the best interests of the guilty?

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  22. Prigger
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    The Russian Ambassador on the Marr show was telling fibs. He said Porton Down Chemical Research facility is “8 miles” from Salisbury. I looked it up on the internet. It is actually 8.38 miles , by bus.

  23. Peter
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Illegal arms dealing is a very difficult line to get into. You need an entree and the right connections.

    How do we consider paying bribes to win arms contracts? It goes on and British companies have profited from it. Some of the bribes also come back via spending in London. When details of such bribes were revealed there were many attempts to hush it all up. There was no real mechanism to stop it happening anyway.

  24. behindthefrogs
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    What about those of us who have invested in genuine antiques, many of which include ivory. My pension fund partially consists of such items. Is the government going to provide me with a replacement pension? If this makes me dependent on housing benefit etc. I guess it actually will.

  25. JimS
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Cutting the supply of old ivory will raise the price for new, poached, ivory.

    Why not ‘farm’ elephants and sell certified ‘ethical’ ivory?

  26. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I see that certain people are still pretending today that this vastly inflated problem of a trickle of goods crossing the Irish border would be instantly solved if only we joined EFTA and used that as a route to stay in the EEA.

    (Supposing the 31 other countries agreed to that scheme, which they might not do, or which they might be prepared to do but only on unacceptable terms.)

    This is despite the europhile majority on the Brexit committee now admitting that this would not be a solution:

    https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmexeu/884/884.pdf

    “Even EFTA-EEA countries, which are closely aligned with the European Union, are still subject to customs, VAT and rules of origin checks for their exports into the Single Market.”

    And when asked by Sky News about the “light touch” Norway-Sweden border the Irish government dismissed the possibility of anything like that, in fact:

    http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2018/03/17/my-speech-in-the-european-affairs-debate-15-march/#comment-925499

    “We have been very, very clear from day one, there cannot be a physical border and that means ruling out cameras, that means ruling out technology, that means ruling out anything that would imply a border on the island of Ireland, it is not an option for us”

  27. Adam
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Crime Prevention Idea:

    1. The Home Office produces a black & yellow-zig zag uniform, with an L-plate.
    2. Non-violent criminals are sentenced to wear it publicy, & nothing else.
    3. Any offender not wearing is imprisoned for 1 year.
    4. Uniform panel displays offence: eg Drugs, Fraud or Mugging etc.
    5. Uniforms panel displays remaining years sentence.

    Distinction makes the public aware of risk, & causes criminals to engage in daily rehabilitational behaviour.

    Opinions are welcome.

    • eeyore
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

      Public shaming of criminals has long been unpopular with the public themselves. However, a decade or two back an American sheriff achieved notoriety by offering his bad guys the choice of regular punishment or standing by the roadside with a sign detailing their crimes round their necks.

      Those who took the latter option reportedly found it powerfully chastening. Whether it deterred them from further wrongdoing I don’t know.

      One is reminded of the criminal in Macaulay who was offered the choice of 20 years as a galley slave or of reading Guicciardini’s History of the Pisan Wars. He chose the history. Halfway through Vol 2 he changed his mind and begged to be sent to the galleys.

      • Adam
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 11:07 am | Permalink

        eeyore:

        I recall seeing coverage of the US sheriff activity on TV at the time, which showed a placard-holding bad guy by the road complying with his sentence. Many opined that it was a refreshingly effective method.

        We may spend £40k or more per criminal per year on prisons. The sheriff’s exposure & shaming method would be far more cost-efficient. I propose the zig zag uniform would be worn permanently, until sentence is completed, & can envision its effectiveness in rehabilitation.

  28. Adam
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    China’s 2018 ban of ivory, & its population of 1.4 billion, will help discourage elephant poaching. UK dealers are increasingly averse to ivory trade, as pre-1947 provenance is often beyond proof to confirm legality here. Some fear violent demonstrators.

    Elephant barbarism should be stopped at source, yet many who seek extreme protection for some species care less about others. The life of a centipede or a frog may be as important to those creatures as our own is to us. An elephant is large & beautiful. A butterfly exhibits beauty too, yet few humans would drive at 5mph to reduce careless slaughter of those smaller & less important.

  29. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if anybody can help to explain the logic of the EU’s position on the land border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Perhaps acorn can assist, once he has sorted out the difference between a million and a billion …

    While the UK is still one of its member states the EU is willing to trust the UK authorities to take effectual measures to prevent goods which the EU regards as illicit being exported across that land border into the Irish Republic, and as it reposes similar trust in the Irish authorities it has decreed that there is no longer any need for routine checks on goods as they cross the border in either direction.

    However once the UK has ceased to be one of its member states the EU will no longer be prepared to trust the UK authorities to take effectual measures to prevent the export of what it regards as illicit goods across that border, not even if the UK solemnly pledges to do that and enshrines that pledge in new UK laws agreed with the EU.

    Apparently once outside the blessed circle of the EU the previously trustworthy UK will instantly degenerate into an untrustworthy counterparty, forcing the EU to act to defend the integrity of its Single Market at that new external border.

    On the other hand if the UK agreed that after the UK as a whole had left the EU Northern Ireland could still remain in a customs union with the EU and still participate in the EU single market then the UK authorities could be trusted to make sure that no illicit goods were produced in, or imported into, Northern Ireland so they could find their way to an uncontrolled border with the Republic.

    It makes no sense. Either they trust us or they do not trust us, and if they trust us now but will cease to trust us once we have left the EU why on earth should they be prepared to let us continue to control all other points of entry into Northern Ireland on their behalf, with an open land border with the Republic and the rest of the EU?

    Wouldn’t they be afraid that being unreliable we might deliberately allow in all kinds of rubbish from around the world just so it could be sent down to the Republic?

    • acorn
      Posted March 21, 2018 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      Happy to help Denis. At the Northern Ireland ports, there would be a version of Treaty of Le Touquet.

      Treaty between the UK and France where frontier controls are manned by both nations personnel on each side of the bilateral border; Dover – Calais.

  30. Norman
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Like a lot of other things going on in this world, the killing of healthy elephants for ivory is tragic, depraved and obscene. Apparently the gene pool is being affected, so that the elephants in some areas now have small, or non-existent tusks (especially the females). This is not the ‘evolution’ of pop science but, in effect, simply artificial breeding, as has been done in polled cattle or sheep. Ideally, it would be good if the genes of the larger-tusked animals could somehow be preserved for re-introduction at some later time. Once those genes are lost, they are gone forever.
    Another possible line of action, is to popularize ‘faux ivory’, so that it becomes less exclusive, hopefully depressing the price of the real thing. But knowing the mindset of those who crave such things, I doubt this would work – just an idea.

  31. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    “The overwhelming majority of Russians like any other nationality obtained their money by hard work and enterprise and have a right to its safekeeping where they choose to live and invest. ”
    You appear to have written this without thinking it through. We need to start thinking whether we want our assets to necessarily be the latest home for “hot” money. That’s not money gained by illegal or corrupt means, but money obtained originally by hard work, but which is seeking to maximise capital gain by taking advantage of monopolies within our system. It’s right to at least ask why cash generated overseas in zero tax environments should be used nakedly to acquire UK assets which UK residents paying 60% tax on the same hard work can’t afford? It’s especially right to ask why we should offer these oppportunities to those from countries which don’t reciprocate this openness?

  32. LenD
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    That’s a good one allright comparing elephants to Russians..then complaining about Chinese Russians and Europeans bringing in dirty money..when the very people complicit with it are our own political parties walĺowing in it..taking huge donations- the London banks and their associates- laundering it- and all from the same circle of the old pals network…and JR making out how surprised he is..when he himself is also on the very inside track while all of this is going on. Must be a case of the three monkeys, see no evil, etc

  33. ELGRECO
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    In large part, it is the Russians using the likes of the London and NYC as shelter from Putin who have stolen money from the Russian state. Who will deny the influence Russians bought in London and NYC in the nineties…and isn’t that the money that almost bankrupted Yeltsin’s Russia? Categorically, yes!

  34. Pat
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    As to Ivory- farm elephants for Ivory. Investigate the possibility of substituting artificial tusks so the elephants can live normally after the natural ones have been removed under anaesthetic. Use the proceeds to pay the farmers who will now have an incentive to protect their elephants. The price of ivory will fall, reducing the temptation to poach. The chances of getting the world to pay more than lip service to a ban on sales is zero- else it wouldn’t be poached now.
    As to money coming into the country, the definition of what is dirty and what is not varies according to culture and nationality. If evidence is produced in a British Court that the money was ill gotten then the individual should be subject to extradition. If not, then why are we worried? We need to give up policing the world. Not only is it an onerous task, probably beyond our power, but we get and can expect no thanks for the attempt.

  35. margaret
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t ever got to grips with the rarity/ valuable concepts. What the hell do I want ivory for, why should I have diamonds instead of zircon , why should we kill living things and humans to get what we want ?All of the wants are man made constructs with little sense or reasoning of their intrinsic value. The value of water , shelter , food , warmth are the precious resources I can get my head around , but this longing for fripperies because some have put a value on them is nonsensical.

    Again works of modern art which go for high prices I simply cannot appreciate . My granddaughter has drawn an impressive piece of art at 6 yrs old .It’s value is personal.

    The west have a long fear factor of Russian things and people. I wonder again how much of it is a construct designed to perpetuate mistrust ?

  36. ian
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    They have a chance to sell all the tons of ivory they taken over years into the market and crash the price for forever, but they chose to burn it instead and ratchet up the price of ivory so poaching elephants would carry on.
    One can only think that they were only thinking about the people that own ivory to come to that decision and not the elephant as they tell you.

  37. Jim Whitehouse
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    I feel that humans often jump for the “obvious” solution to a problem but the law of unintended consequences has a habit of getting in the way.
    We frequently see African countries performing a symbolic burning of captured ivory, to “send a message”. I often wonder if we wouldn’t do better to flood the market with the captured product, and attempt to crash the price. If successful, this would drastically alter the reward/risk calculus for the poachers.
    Similarly, we leap to ban dangerous drugs, to protect our children. The biggest risk of these substances is that they are purchased from a criminal. If it is even what was requested, the dose is guesswork. Would we be better off selling a quality controlled product from a pharmacy, at aspirin prices? This would vastly reduce the harm to those hell bent on indulging, kill the illegal market, and cut crime caused by those desperate for their fix. If we spent a fraction of the money saved in policing, on education, we could probably cut drug usage as well.

  38. Headiphyer
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    With over 200 schools closing tomorrow here in the UK, it seems the kids in Finland, all ages, walk to school with temperatures below -15C . Well, here in the UK we walked to Infant School in temperatures and snowfall worse than we’ll have tomorrow. We are better educated now of course and stay off at every opportunity.
    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/life/weekend-australian-magazine/learning-to-chill-finlands-schools-yield-stellar-results/news-story/a0107b0c1d0a78fc1def86a08beedf11

  39. mancunius
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    As far as capital inflows into UK property are concerned, whether the source of the cash is legal or illegal is not be the only consideration. It cannot be of any social advantage that absentee owners permanently living in e.g. Singapore, Hong Kong, Moscow, Bombay, Boston or Durban should be allowed to buy up leaseholds and use their flat as a piggy-box, renting it out (thus avoiding council tax), withholding service charges and insurance payments, refusing to remedy faults in their ‘renovations’, not complying with Section 20 notices etc: these are common problems.
    Absentees buying up large houses and keeping them permanently unused is another problem. All these purchases make a finite commodity rarer, London homes becoming ever more unaffordable for those who actually contribute to our capital by working in it.
    The banks are only too pleased to accept the large amounts of dosh without too many questions, as the absentees make sure it’s leveraged with loads of mortgage debt. Banks don’t need cash – they need more paper promising debt-fuelled repayments: the more cash-leveraged debt, the better they like it.
    The fall in the £ will not affect this abuse – absentees game the property market as a long-term hedge. We are targeted because other countries have effective measures in place to deter property speculation and absentee landlords.

    • hans chr iversen
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      So which countries ahve what legislation in connection with landlords etc>?

      • mancunius
        Posted March 20, 2018 at 12:42 am | Permalink

        Google it and inform yourself!
        You could start with A for Australia.

  40. Daft Vader
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    “The Australian dollar just suffered its largest slide since Brexit” Business Insider 18 March 2018

    One wonders if there has been an increase in sunspots since Brexit

  41. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    A number of Russians are very rich because the Yeltsin government sold state assets for a song. This destabilised the financial position of the Russian state and they twice defaulted. Putin has bought back or seized back many of these assets so that now Russia has manageable debts. Whether any of the Russians who benefitted is a criminal is doubtful, any more than people who bought gold from Gordon Brown’s exchequer at the bottom of the market are criminals.

    How easy is it to check the source of a foreigner’s wealth?

    • rose
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      How easy indeed? Not nearly so easy as grandstanding when there are outstanding domestic criminal matters to bury.

  42. Bob
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I read that British police are unlikely to probe the extensive property empire of a sitting MP because of a rule protecting politicians from scrutiny placed in UK law at the behest of the European Union.

    A case of one rule for us…

  43. ale bro
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Inviting Russian nationals into the UK and giving them passports just because they were enemies of Putin was clearly a bad idea.

    All British citizens would love a government that could show some sense of morality, but unfortunately British policy towards Russia appears to enable corruption and asset stripping from the Russian state. That is a despicable tactic, and one that is quite rightly blowing up in the British government’s face.

  44. Thputnick
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    We should try and imagine what an ordinary Russian would prefer about the UK. …especially a relatively well-off Russian. I started thinking about it a few years ago. I’ll get there eventually.

  45. RDM
    Posted March 20, 2018 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    You could always finance people like me, to protect the Elephants?

    Where there is a will, there is a way!

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page