The EU has so far frozen nearly 30 billion euros in assets from blacklisted Russian and Belarusian individuals and companies under sanctions imposed for Moscow’s war in Ukraine, it said Friday. A total of 29.5 billion euros ($32 billion) “including assets such as boats, helicopters, real estate and artwork" have been seized and another 196 billion euros of transactions have been blocked, the European Commission said in a statement.
The EU’s figures were partial, based on data from around half of the EU’s 27 member states given to the bloc’s “Freeze and Seize" task force operating in coordination with G7 partners, including the US. The blacklists of individuals and companies are part of waves of swingeing sanctions imposed by the EU, US and G7 countries since Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, conducted in part from Belarusian territory.
They have been repeatedly expanded, including on Friday in the EU’s agreed 5th package of sanctions, which also includes a ban on Russian coal imports and expanded financial sanctions and trade restrictions.
The EU and US have said they will aggressively hunt down and seize assets of those on their blacklists, deemed to benefit from the Kremlin and contribute to its war effort.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and — as of this week — his two adult daughters are on them, along with oligarchs, influential businesspeople and politicians including Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and their relatives.
Oligarchs’ superyachts have been prominent assets targeted, with several seized in the EU while others have been sailed out of the jurisdictional reach of the G7 sanctions.
Luxurious properties in swanky corners of the EU and Britain have also fallen in the net.
In many cases, ascertaining ownership is a tricky task for authorities, given fiscal smokescreens used by the ultra-wealthy, such as shell companies, trusts and proxies.
It’s for that reason the EU and US have set up specific task forces to collate information and coordinate.
The commission said a joint meeting of the EU and US task forces would take place later on Friday, with Ukrainian officials participating.
The next meeting of the EU’s task force will be in two weeks.
“In light of the atrocities committed by the Russian army, it is more urgent than ever to strengthen our cooperation within the EU and with our international partners, including the US and Ukraine, and step up our efforts to stop the financing of the Kremlin’s war machine," EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders said in the statement.
The bloc’s commissioner for financial services Mairead McGuinness said the sanctions were “crucial for imposing economic pain on Putin’s regime and those complicit in the war" and implementation of them was “essential".
Read the Latest News and Breaking News here(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed - AFP)