Freeze All Russian Assets

THE CITY GRUMP

The invasion of Ukraine should have provided the perfect scenario for Boris Johnson to attempt to escape from all those currently and potentially demanding his resignation. As the gangster Putin calls for the “denazification” of Ukraine, here is the PM’s chance to cast himself  in the role of the 21st century’s version of his idol, Churchill.

What do we get instead? Yes, that’s right. More of the usual Boris bluster (he doesn’t have the powers of attention to detail to ape Churchill’s rhetoric) and absolutely no substance to his words. What has he offered in retaliation for Putin’s invasion of a sovereign country? A pipsqueaking ban on five Russian banks and three individuals. As I write this, I can’t get out of my mind’s eye a picture of Boris being passed a note from Carrie in the COBRA meeting urging her husband to demand Putin doesn’t damage Ukraine’s wildlife. Pip, pip.

Back in the real world Russia has declared war and invaded a country, which we have pledged to support and accordingly is a de facto declaration of war on the United Kingdom.  What is the most fundamental basic action we take in wartime? We freeze the assets of the enemy. This means that without delay, all UK assets of Russian passport holders must be frozen. We all know many of these assets are masked by numerous nominee holding companies but all the more reason to make it very clear to Putin’s gang that, starting today, their assets will be hunted down.

I have heard it suggested we and others should go after Russian companies but companies are very adept at shifting assets and production around. A gangster President only survives if he can keep the money rolling in from his associates. Hit all those individuals in the pocket and their loyalty to the President evaporates. Combined with the probability he faces a drawn out guerrilla war in the Ukraine then Putin will soon be heading for the political dustbin.

Will Boris finally show us Churchillian steel? I doubt it. Yet another reason for his Party to vote him out.

The City Grump has spent some 40 years in the City of London. He started as a stockbroker’s analyst but after some years he decided he was too grumpy to continue with the sell side of things so he moved to the buy side and became a fund manager for the next 20 years, selling his own business in the 1990s. Post the millennium, he found himself in turn chairing a stockbroker, a financial PR company, and an Exchange. He still keeps his hand in, chairing a brace of VCTs and investing personally in startups. The City Grump’s publications are available here.