THE US Government has accused a Scottish registered company of supporting the Russian military and security services and placed the firm on a sanctions list.

The Scotland on Sunday newspaper reports that Djeco Group, registered in Edinburgh’s New Town, has been placed on a blacklist alongside scores of Russian firms amid the country’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The Scottish Limited Partnership (SLP) was included in a list of sanctions put in place by the US on March 9.

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We previously told how SLPs are controversial business arrangements which can allow owners of businesses to register their companies while remaining anonymous.

They are also renowned for being used to launder dirty cash and lend illegal businesses, such as arms dealers and criminal gangs, an air of credibility.

And last week, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack admitted that “further measures” will be taken in future to create more transparency around the ownership of SLP’s.

According to Companies House, Djeco Group was first registered in 2009 and the only person stated as having significant control in the firm is Mrs Evgeniya Bernova.

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Jack was challenged on SLP's in the Commons last week

The group was set up as a holding partnership of two Maltese firms, one of which - MaltaRent Ltd - purportedly supplies equipment and services to filmmakers.

However, officials from the US ruled that its activities were tied to Putin’s increasingly isolated regime. The company is one of three UK based firms on the sanctions list.

The US Department of Commerce (DoC) said the decision to blacklist Djeco Group and 91 other firms was “based upon their involvement in, contributions to, or other support of the Russian security services, military and defence sectors”, as well as research and development efforts for the military.

The anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International, which describes SLPs as “the UK’s home-grown corporate secrecy vehicle”, said the sanctions development highlighted the need for urgent action.

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Steve Goodrich, the group’s head of research and investigations, said that Companies House acts as an ‘honesty box’ where firms can submit false information with very few consequences, leaving them open to abuse.

He said: “Ministers have pledged reform later this year, but given the current context and what is at stake, these changes can’t come soon enough.”

Alison Thewliss (below), the SNP’s shadow chancellor, who has been calling for reforms of SLPs for the past five years, said: “The case of Djeco Group illustrates the very complex web which can be spun using SLPs.

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“They have been abused for many years now for a range of nefarious activities including bribery, corruption and arms deals, so it isn’t a great surprise to find this one linked to Putin’s regime. If the US authorities have blacklisted Djeco, the UK must now follow suit.”

She added: “The UK government and Companies House should now be reviewing all SLPs and PSCs to strike off those directors who have been sanctioned. The difficulty in all of this is that the Companies House register is not fit for purpose, and the information contained within it isn’t verified."

Ian Murray, Labour’s shadow Scottish Secretary, previously argued in the Commons that Companies House reforms should have been incorporated in the new Economic Crime Bill.

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Murray told Scotland on Sunday that the allegations against Djeco represented “yet another example of the unscrupulous activities of SLPs which are aided by outdated legislation allowing them to obscure their true owners”.

He added: “The results of this investigation are deeply alarming. The UK government must examine Djeco Group further to ensure that no entity which is assisting Putin’s regime is able to operate with impunity in the UK.”

Last week, Murray challenged Jack over SLP’s in the House of Commons, to which the Scottish Secretary said “more will be done” in the next parliamentary session.