Weavers of Destiny


Whilst Britain plunged into a constitutional crisis in the aftermath of the 2016 referendum, David de Rothschild put blame on David Cameron. “It’s a historical mistake”, he admitted in an interview for The Financial Times, “to ask people ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on something even the political and business elite only partially grasps.”534 In order to reverse the results of referendum, a prominent Jewish firm of solicitors, which previously provided legal services to the Royal Family, Mishcon de Reya, prepared a legal claim to challenge the decision made by the British people and the British government. Mishcon de Reya was the same firm that complained about the attempts made by the British authorities to crack on tax avoidance and the same firm that sent letters threatening legal action to Maltese investigative journalist who reported on tax avoiding politicians in Malta, Daphne Galizia, shortly before she was murdered in 2017.535 536 Mishcon de Reya approached an investment manager Gina Miller proposing that she becomes one of the Claimants for a judicial review of the decision made by the British government.537 They chose Lord Pannick from Blackstone Chambers in the Temple district in central London (former HQ of the Knights Templar) to represent her in court. Lord Pannick's former clients included Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Mikhail Khodorkovsky, close associate of Jacob Rothschild.538

On November 7, 2016, the High Court judges in London decided in favour of Mishcon de Reya rejecting the arguments put forward by the Government. The judges described the passing of the European Communities Act 1972 as the major step of "switching on the direct effect of EU law in the national legal systems", and reasoned that the government could not undo the statute law unilaterally by exercise of its prerogative powers.539 In other words, the judges ruled that only the Parliament could make a decision about the change in law. The High Court decision was met with mixed views in the daily press. Various news media attacked the presiding judges and questioned their impartiality, with Daily Mail calling them “enemies of the people”.540 The British government appealed the decision and the case ended up in the UK Supreme Court. Its President, Lord Neuberger, German Jew by descent and former employee of N.M. Rothschild and Sons, was seen by some pro-Brexit MPs as potentially biased given that his wife made negative comments about Brexit.541 Calls for his resignation were however completely ignored. On January 24, 2017, the UK Supreme Court upheld the High Court judgement and the claim made by Mishcon de Reya declaring that the British government could not leave the EU without the consent of the British Parliament. The judgement of the UK Supreme Court was an opportunity for the British parliamentarians to disregard the public vote and reverse the results of referendum.542 The British MPs could not however ignore the view of their constituents and consequently, in February and March, both Houses of Parliament passed the Withdrawal Act, empowering the prime minister to invoke Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union that provides the exit option for the EU member states. The only Tory member who voted against triggering article 50 was Kenneth Clarke, a veteran Conservative politician. He declared in his speech that promises of riches after Britain departs were Alice in Wonderland fantasies. “Apparently you follow the rabbit down a hole”, he said, “and you emerge in a wonderland where suddenly countries around the world are queueing up to give us trading advantages and access to their markets that previously we have never been able to achieve as part of the EU.”543 Clarke cheerfully declared that his conscience was clear. “When we see what unfolds after we leave the EU, I hope the consciences of other members of parliament remain equally content.”544 Polly Toynbee of the Guardian newspaper described Kenneth Clarke as “prophet crying in wilderness.”545 On March 29, 2017, Tim Barrow, a Permanent Representative of the UK to the EU, delivered a letter to the President of European Council Donald Tusk, formally invoking article 50. Britain was due to leave the EU on March 29, 2019.

Meanwhile on March 20, 2017, the Guardian newspaper exposed once again the secret connections between the City of London and the Russian state. In an article called “British banks handled vast sums of laundered Russian money”, it showed that circa $20bn had been moved out of Russia via a network of the British offshore companies.546 The investigators focused on a number of companies including Seabon Limited, which was run by a company management firm in Tooley Street, just around the corner from the Mayor of London's office and City Hall in London. The operation involved the Russian banks, top Russian government figures including President Vladimir Putin and Russian Secret Services, FSB, at least 17 UK banks including HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, Barclays and Coutts as well as American banks such as Citibank and Bank of America. The day after these money-laundering revelations, on March 21, 2017, Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, member of Labour Party, raised a number of questions in the House of Commons. These were addressed to Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, who was represented by Simon Kirby, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury and City Minister, who represented the interests of the City of London:

Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell:

“First, it is alleged that, via an operation referred to as the “global laundromat”, banks based in Britain have been used to launder immense sums of money obtained from criminal activity in Russia linked to the FSB spy agency there. This appears to point to an overwhelming failure of basic management on the part of the banks. One of those banks, HSBC, is an institution that has previously faced money laundering charges in the US and across the globe. The direct intervention of this government helped to block a 2012 investigation on the purported grounds of its potential risk to financial stability. In the case of another bank, RBS, THE GOVERNMENT DIRECTLY OWN A 72% STAKE. A third bank, Barclays, has been under investigation for its role in LIBOR rigging. Will the Minister give us specific details of what steps are being taken to address this scandal? (...)“

Roger Mullin, MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath; Scottish National Party:

“This revelation is SHOCKING, but it is not in the least bit surprising. For over a year, I have been campaigning in this House on associated areas. After the story was released yesterday evening, I undertook research that indicates that at the heart of the issue is the banks’ use of limited partnerships—not only Scottish limited partnerships, but many other forms—that allow the criminals to hide their ownership of companies. It is through that mechanism that these things are happening.”

Mr Philip Hollobone, MP for Kettering, Conservative Party:

How many money launderers have been sent to prison in the past five years?

City Minister Simon Kirby:

I am not aware of the exact answer to that question, but I will write to my honourable Friend with all the information I have. I am convinced that, across the world and in this country, money laundering is taken very seriously.

Ian Austin, MP for Dudley North, Labour Party:

The Home Affairs Committee estimates that £100 billion is laundered through London every year, but only 0.17% of that has been frozen, so the Minister might as well go to Heathrow and put up a welcome sign for Russian murderers and money launderers. Five criminal complaints have been submitted to UK law enforcement agencies about money laundering connected to the Magnitsky case. Not a single one has resulted in the opening of a criminal case, whereas 12 other countries have opened investigations on the same evidence. So the question is this: what is necessary to get UK law enforcement agencies to do their jobs and prosecute money launderers? Why has that not been working, and what is the minister going to do about it?547

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534 Anne Sylvaine Chassany, “David de Rothschild on Brexit, banking and his old protégé”, The Financial Times, 21 September 2018 »

535 David Pegg, “Mishcon de Reya complains about anti-tax evasion measures”, The Guardian, 2 August 2018 https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/aug/02/mishcon-de-reya-complains-about-anti-tax-evasion-measures »

536 Ibid. »

537 “Lord Mishcon”, The Telegraph, 30 January 2006 https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1509163/Lord-Mishcon.html »

538 Lord Pannick QC, Blackstone Chambers https://web.archive.org/web/20160321194433/http://www.blackstonechambers.com/people/barristers/lord_pannick_qc.html »

539 R (Miller) -v- Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union; Neutral Citation Number: [2016] EWHC 2768 (Admin); 3 November 2016 »

540 James Slack, “Enemies of the people Fury over 'out of touch' judges who have 'declared war on democracy' by defying 17.4m Brexit voters and who could trigger constitutional crisis”, Mail Online, 3 November 2016 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3903436/Enemies-people-Fury-touch-judges-defied-17-4m-Brexit-voterstrigger-constitutional-crisis.html »

541 Caroline Mortimer, “Brexiteers urge Supreme Court judge to stand down from Article 50 hearing over wife's Pro-Remain Tweets, Independent, 19 November 2016 https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-latest-supreme-court-article-50-hearing-judge-lordneuberger-wife-tweet-impartiality-a7427511.html »

542 Owen Bowcott, Rowena Mason, Anushka Astkhana, “Supreme Court rules parliament must have vote to trigger article 50”, The Guardian, 24 January 2017 https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jan/24/supreme-court-brexit-ruling-parliament-vote-article-50 »

543 Esther Addley, “Ken Clarke on Brexit: ‘I’ve never seen anything as mad or chaotic as this”, The Guardian, 5 February 2017 https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/feb/05/ken-clarke-on-brexit-ive-never-seen-anything-as-mad-or-chaoticas-this »

544 Ibid. »

545 Polly Toynbee, “Ken Clarke was magnificent, defying the Brexit zealots”, The Guardian, 1 February 2011 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/01/ken-clarke-brexit-zealots-european »

546 “British banks handled vast sums of laundered Russian money”, The Guardian, 20 March 2017 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/20/british-banks-handled-vast-sums-of-laundered-russian-money »

547 House of Commons Hansard, 21 March 2017, volume 623, “Money Laundering: British Banks”; https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2017-03-21/debates/C6DDD86E-7A03-42D9-B8A8-612AD37EB93D/MoneyLaunderingBritishBanks »