What are the main money accounts seized from the Russian government?
Western countries have joined forces to seize property and freeze bank accounts associated with Kremlin cronies for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Western nations have imposed several rounds of crippling sanctions on Russia and those who influence the decision-making process in Moscow since President Putin sent troops into neighboring Ukraine. Since then, Russian bank accounts around the world have been frozen and property seized in several countries in Europe.
To help track down assets purchased with ill-gotten gains siphoned out of Russia and stashed around the world, Western countries have teamed up forming the Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) multilateral task force. The entity which was announced after Russia invaded Ukraine was formerly launched on 16 March.
Russian banks assets frozen
Although no Kremlin associated bank accounts have been seized, a number of banks with ties to Vladimir Putin and the Russian government have had their assets frozen, including the central bank. This has caused the value of the nation’s currency, the ruble, to nose-dive.
Russia’s first default on a foreign-currency debt since 1918 was averted on Wednesday when a $117 interest payment dollar-denominated debt was paid using dollars and not the ruble. The nation has around $700 million in payments to make this month. Between the government and corporations Russia owes $140 billion in foreign-currency debt. After midnight 25 May, Russia will no longer be able to service its debts in dollars a Treasury spokesperson told Bloomberg.
European countries have seized over a billion dollars in Russian assets
Upon announcing sanctions on Russian oligarchs and key decision makers in the Kremlin, European nations began seizing or freezing numerous assets belonging to them. Among the assets sequestered have been planes, villas and superyachts.
Italy has been the most aggressive seizing over 780 million of euros worth of property from seven Russian billionaires in the last two weeks. The biggest catch was a 530-million-euro mega-yacht owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko.
International cooperation to locate and seize Russian assets
According to a 2017 National Economic Bureau, Russian billionaires control roughly 30 percent of the nation’s wealth. Around $800 billion, equivalent to the wealth of the entire Russian population, is hidden in offshore banking centers. Switzerland's financial industry association, the Swiss Bankers Association, estimates that wealthy Russians have up to $213 billion stashed away in the nation’s banks.
By using offshore accounts, they can launder their money through blind trusts and real estate making it hard to link assets to a specific individual. To aid in uncovering where Russia’s oligarchs have their money stowed away Western nations have teamed up creating REPO, Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs Task Force. The eight nations including, Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, the UK, and US, along with the European Commission, will assist one another as well as other nations to “locate and freeze assets located within their jurisdictions.”
US senators to introduce legislation to offer bounties on Russian kleptocracy assets
The US Department of Justice has created a new Task Force KleptoCapture to help in the international effort. In order to get individuals with knowledge of where Russia's elite are hiding their ill-gotten gains, a bipartisan group of senators is planning to release legislation calling on the Treasury Department to offer cash rewards for information leading to the capture of sanctioned Russian oligarchs’ assets.
The bill would authorize the confiscation of assets worth in excess of $2 million. Those assets would then be used to support Ukraine, financing reconstruction, humanitarian and military aid, as well as supporting Ukrainian refuges.
“Putin and his oligarchs stow their dirty money in rule-of-law nations by purchasing mansions, mega-yachts, artwork, and other high-value assets. We ought to seize those ill-gotten luxuries and put them to use helping the Ukrainian people,” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said in a statement.