Each of the 27 EU member states is finding it difficult to impose sanctions on Putin’s rule due to legal and personal obstacles. So despite their validity, most EU countries were only able to freeze assets – owners can still use them because they can no longer seize them.
Assets cannot be sold or transferred by their owners, but even the state cannot confiscate them. because
Confiscation is not possible in most member states because it requires a final criminal conviction
The European Commission stated in with Reuters.
Thus, this means that the few can continue to live carefree in their palaces, assets frozen on paper by the authorities.
Polish government spokesman Piotr Muller said his country needs to amend its constitution to allow for the confiscation of Russian assets. France has so far frozen Russian assets worth about 850 million euros (nearly 320 billion forints) from sanctioned individuals, but those owners can still physically use them. Italian lawyers told INA that the country will have to launch separate legal procedures to confiscate the frozen assets.
So far, the bank accounts and assets of the sanctioned people have technically been frozen, but this affects only a small part of their holdings.
There are other obstacles to finding wealth: many oligarchs have now restructured and pooled their complex network of offshore companies, and their financial portfolios have been adjusted according to the sanctions. For example, steel magnate Alexei Mordasov turned his tour company’s $1.3 billion (over $440 billion) stock into an offshore tax haven. In addition, on the same day he was beaten with penalties. The property of the second oligarch, Roman Abramovich, was transferred to a nearby trading partner only on the day Moscow stormed Ukraine.
The European Commission set up a task force last week specifically to deal with the freezes and confiscations so that they can more effectively impose sanctions against the Russian oligarchy. This task force has not yet found any assets that should be frozen urgently due to the risk of being sold or taken out of the European Union.
A spokesperson for the commission told Reuters that member states should provide regular reports on the implementation of sanctions and how they were able to implement them. However, there was no response as to which member states had complied with their reporting obligations, and there was no further indication of the total value of the assets frozen so far.
(Cover photo: Roman Abramovich’s luxury private yacht. Photo: Sabri Kesen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)