MSPs have unanimously backed a Bill to tackle “dirty money” in the UK amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill was passed by the House of Commons on March 1 without opposition, and is currently in the House of Lords.

The legislation is part of a bid to tackle Russian interests in the UK and will establish a register of overseas entities - which would require foreign owners of property in the UK to declare their true identity.

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Transparency International recently estimated that more than £1.5 billion worth of UK property was bought by Russians accused of corruption or with links to the Kremlin between 2016 and 2021, the majority of that property being in London.

However, as The National previously revealed - there are numerous Russian held properties in Scotland too.

Introducing the motion to give the bill legislative consent in Holyrood, Justice Secretary Keith Brown said that the Scottish Government and parliament have “unqualified support for Ukrainian sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity” and the introduction of sanctions against Russia.

He added: “I feel the whole chamber will be united in supporting the actions we are taking to address the flagrant violation of international law by Putin's regime.

The National:

Keith Brown introduced the motion on behalf of the Scottish Government

“The people of Ukraine know that Scotland stands with them in the face of this unprovoked and unjustifiable aggression against their nation, and they can be assured that we will take all possible steps to sever ties to Putin's regime and those individuals who support it.

“That is why I'm seeking the agreement of Parliament in supporting the legislative consent motion on the Economic Crime Transparancey, an important bill introduced into the UK Parliament on the first of March.”

Michael Marra, Scottish Labour MSP for North East Scotland, lodged an amendment to the motion which would add at the end “but, in so doing, believes that the provisions of part one of the bill should apply to all land owned and registered in Scotland, regardless of when this was acquired".

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Part one of the bill relates to the “registration of overseas entities”, which would force property owners to reveal their true identity, instead of using offshore firms to obscure who the real owner is.

Marra told the chamber: “My amendment sets out that there should be no backdate on assets which the Russian kleptocracy needs to declare here in Scotland. There is no logical sense as to why we must cut off at the 2014 date the land and assets they must declare.”

He later added: “The people of this land have, I believe, a right to know who holds legal ownership of our common treasury, for which we are but stewards.”

The National:

SNP MSP Michelle Thomson (above) hit out at the UK Government during the debate, stating that that UK has been “the hub for international organised crime for years”.

She added: “Worse, it is not simply that we didn't have effective legislation. We've had multiple, particularly Tory governments, deliberately blocking reform.

“For example, despite the best efforts of some, and it is on the record, the UK Government refused to tackle the criminality associated with Scottish limited partnerships and in doing so, in effect colludes with economic crime and corruption.”

Thomson also set out flaws in the Westminster Bill.

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She said: “The legislation allows the UK Secretary of State to exempt individuals from having to register if it's thought to be for our own well-being. Perhaps this is a perk for pals of the Secretary of State. I don't know.”

Thomson added that she supported the motion but would “reserve judgement” on the success of the bill.

Brown’s motion and Marra’s amendment both passed unanimously.