Labour asks why Treasury unit let sanctioned oligarch bring UK libel case
The Treasury must explain how the Russian founder of a mercenary army was given permission to circumvent sanctions, to attempt to silence a British journalist, Labour has said.
In a letter to Jeremy Hunt, seen by the Guardian, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Pat McFadden, said that No 11 had to say why it had granted the permission and whether similar allowances had been made for other sanctioned oligarchs to use libel lawsuits.
The revelations, published on OpenDemocracy, concern a libel case brought by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a key ally of Vladimir Putin, against Eliot Higgins, the founder of the investigative group Bellingcat.
The documents and leaked emails show how Prigozhins lawyers were given permission by the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI), a department inside the Treasury, to represent him despite the fact he was under sanctions.
For years Prigozhin denied all links to the Wagner group of mercenaries and brought a case against Higgins, but last year admitted he founded Wagner in 2014.
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