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Troubled Bridgewaters: Manx company accused of helping hide Russian cash

Article accuses business of being at 'core of Russian money network'

An article in The Wall Street Journal has taken aim at the Isle of Man this week - reporting that a network of companies here are allowing Russian oligarchs to hide their wealth from sanctions.

Published on Tuesday the piece focused in particular on Douglas-based financial services company Bridgewaters.

It claimed Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov had invested $175 million into a 'laser start-up' in Silicon Valley via offshore companies.

The issue being - the movement of vast wealth from east to west would run contrary to global sanctions against Russian oligarchs in light of the country's invasion of Ukraine.

The Isle of Man has imposed its share of those sanctions and, by the end of July, had deregistered 22 aircraft and 49 yachts with links to Russia and Belarus.

Bridgewaters, situated on Victoria Street, has been on the radar of investigative journalists since the release of the Paradise Papers in 2017.

A data leak lead to documents from the Manx company appearing in the report - which looked at how wealthy investors were keeping, albeit legally, money hidden offshore.

It was that report which first linked Bridgewaters with Usmanov.

In May this year journalists arrived on the Isle of Man and attempted to speak to the company's directors in-person and have been working on the article ever since.

'The business has a different view to what it had two, three years ago.'

In November 2021 the company was fined £225,000 by the Financial Services Authority, which identifies and tackles financial crime on the Island, for what it deemed 'regulatory failings'.

Speaking to Manx Radio today Bridgewaters' Managing Director Mark Veale gave his reaction to the WSJ article:

Manx Radio approached the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority which said: 

'The Isle of Man is a well-regulated and responsible jurisdiction renowned for its long-standing record of compliance with global standards and initiatives.

'As a modern, risk-based regulator, the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority is focused on protecting consumers, reducing financial crime, and maintaining confidence in the Island’s finance sector.

'If the authority identifies serious poor behaviour by firms it regulates for activities in the Isle of Man it will consider the full range of its powers.

'The civil penalty and prohibitions of certain individuals in respect of Bridgewater (Isle of Man) Limited followed an investigation conducted by the authority that identified contraventions of the AML/CFT Code.

'A multi-agency approach is continuing in response to the ongoing war in Ukraine to ensure the Isle of Man plays its part in international pressure on Russia and the Putin regime.

'Financial sanctions imposed by the UK Government are automatically implemented and enforced in the Isle of Man by the Customs and Excise Division of the Treasury.

'The Financial Services Authority continues to engage with businesses in the Island to highlight their responsibilities in respect of sanctions prohibitions and the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing.'

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