UK Traces Nerve Agent in Poisoning to Ex-Russian Spy's Home – Wall Street Journal


U.K. Traces Nerve Agent in Poisoning to Ex-Russian Spy’s Home – WSJ

Government says it would review hundreds of visas granted to wealthy Russians in response to attack it blames on Kremlin

LONDON—After combing through hours of security-camera footage and speaking to hundreds of witnesses, British investigators said Wednesday they believe that the nerve agent used to poison a former Russian spy and his daughter had been applied to the front door of their house.

Earlier in the day, the government of Prime Minister

Theresa May

stepped up its rhetoric against the Kremlin, which it says is most likely responsible for the attack in the English town of Salisbury, saying it would review hundreds of visas granted to wealthy Russians living in the U.K.

The ex-intelligence officer,

Sergei Skripal,

and his daughter, Yulia, were found slumped on a park bench earlier this month after the first known use of a chemical weapon in Europe since World War II. They remain hospitalized in critical condition.

In the wake of the attack, the U.K., the U.S. and more than a dozen European countries have expelled a total of more than 100 Russian diplomats and intelligence officers, deepening tension between Moscow and the West. Russia denies any involvement.

Dean Haydon, deputy assistant commissioner and senior national coordinator for U.K. counterterrorism policing, said that after finding evidence the Skripals were exposed to the nerve agent from their front door, “we are therefore focusing much of our efforts in and around their address.”

Police didn’t comment on how the poison was delivered or by whom.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to freeze Russian state assets if they pose risks to the life or property of people in Britain, but she has come under criticism for not going further, including by imposing financial sanctions on people with close ties to Russian President

Vladimir Putin.

Some have invested large amounts of money in British real estate and other institutions.

Asked by a lawmaker about the some 700 Russians who came to the U.K. between 2008 and 2015 on wealthy investor visas, Home Secretary

Amber Rudd

said the government is reviewing individual cases and what changes it could make to the program.

In late 2014, the U.K. tightened visa requirements, doubling the minimum investment to £2 million ($2.8 million) and introducing tougher checks. Russians were overtaken as the program’s main beneficiaries by the Chinese in 2016.

“I have asked my officials to look at what reforms we might continue with and also to take a look at previous ones over the past few years” and see if any actions need to be taken, Mrs. Rudd told a parliamentary committee.

U.K. governments have historically taken a fairly hands-off approach to the regulation of foreign money flowing into London, which has helped support its legal, financial and real-estate industries.

Some critics say a focus on Russian money neglects the wider issue of the U.K. becoming a magnet for questionable foreign wealth.

“I really hope the U.K. government will go after all the corrupt wealth in the U.K., not just Russian,” said

Rachel Davies,

head of advocacy for Transparency International in the U.K.

Andrei Guryev

Head of fertilizer giant PhosAgro

101.0

Mikhail Fridman

Co-owner of financial group Alpha Group

65.0

Oleg Deripaska

Mining and metals tycoon

57.8

Andrei Yakunin

Financier, son of ex-Russian Railways head

23.3

Sergei Pugachev*

Financial tycoon

14.8

Igor Shuvalov

Deputy Prime Minister, former investor

12.0

Sergei Fedotov

Media investor convicted of fraud in Russia

12.0

Roman Rotenberg

Investor, son of oil-services magnate

4.6

Andrei Goncharenko

Head of a Gazprom subsidiary

£245.7 million

Andrei Borodin*

Former head of Bank of Moscow

140.0

Roman Abramovich

Oil and mining tycoon, owner Chelsea F.C.

119.0

Andrei Guryev

Head of fertilizer giant PhosAgro

101.0

Mikhail Fridman

Co-owner of financial group Alpha Group

65.0

Oleg Deripaska

Mining and metals tycoon

57.8

Andrei Yakunin

Financier, son of ex-Russian Railways head

23.3

Sergei Pugachev*

Financial tycoon

14.8

Igor Shuvalov

Deputy Prime Minister, former investor

12.0

Sergei Fedotov

Media investor convicted of fraud in Russia

12.0

Roman Rotenberg

Investor, son of oil-services magnate

4.6

Andrei Goncharenko

Head of a Gazprom subsidiary

£245.7 million

Andrei Borodin*

Former head of Bank of Moscow

140.0

Roman Abramovich

Oil and mining tycoon, owner Chelsea F.C.

119.0

Andrei Guryev

Head of fertilizer giant PhosAgro

101.0

Mikhail Fridman

Co-owner of financial group Alpha Group

65.0

Oleg Deripaska

Mining and metals tycoon

57.8

Andrei Yakunin

Financier, son of ex-Russian Railways head

23.3

Sergei Pugachev*

Financial tycoon

14.8

Igor Shuvalov

Deputy Prime Minister, former investor

12.0

Sergei Fedotov

Media investor convicted of fraud in Russia

12.0

Roman Rotenberg

Investor, son of oil-services magnate

4.6

Andrei Goncharenko

Head of a Gazprom subsidiary

£245.7 million

Andrei Borodin*

Former head of Bank of Moscow

140.0

Roman Abramovich

Oil and mining tycoon, owner Chelsea F.C.

119.0

Andrei Guryev

Head of fertilizer giant PhosAgro

101.0

Mikhail Fridman

Co-owner of financial group Alpha Group

65.0

Oleg Deripaska

Mining and metals tycoon

57.8

Andrei Yakunin

Financier, son of ex-Russian Railways head

23.3

Sergei Pugachev*

Financial tycoon

14.8

Igor Shuvalov

Deputy Prime Minister, former investor

12.0

Sergei Fedotov

Media investor convicted of fraud in Russia

12.0

Roman Rotenberg

Investor, son of oil-services magnate

4.6

Russia has reacted angrily to the coordinated expulsions, which could seriously dent its ability to gather intelligence in the U.S. and Europe. But on Wednesday, the Kremlin said Mr. Putin was still open to holding a summit with President

Donald Trump.

Mr. Trump said last week after speaking by phone with Mr. Putin that the two leaders would meet soon.

“Putin is ready and the Russian side is ready for mutually beneficial and mutually trustful relations with all countries including the U.S. to the extent that our opponents or partners are ready for this,” spokesman

Dmitry Peskov

said.

He added that Russia still planned countermeasures in response to the expulsions.

Write to Jenny Gross at jenny.gross@wsj.com



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