Seven EU countries control 90% of Russian assets. Who is in the lead?

1 December 2022, 06:49 PM

Most of the property belongs to the leading countries of the continent. The topic of Russian assets around the world should be one of the Ukrainian government’s highest priorities. In my previous column, I considered the example of Canada, which has already started a process which should end the transfer of Russian funds, in favor of Ukraine. Moreover, in the matter of legal mechanisms, Canada is by far the leader.

But the majority of Russian assets abroad are not concentrated in Canada. For many years, Europe has become the place for wealthy Russians (especially from Putin's entourage) to invest, make big deals, and relax with their own villas, yachts, and cars. Therefore, according to Politico, the EU has frozen Russian assets worth 68 billion euros.

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Most of them (about 90%) are within 7 countries of the European Union: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Ireland and Austria. Let's consider the most interesting cases.

Belgium has frozen the most Russian assets

Thus, the territory of Belgium is covered by all eight packages of economic sanctions against Russia, including the blocking/freezing of Russian assets.

According to the Federal State Finance Service of the Kingdom of Belgium, 50.5 billion euros of Russian funds have been frozen in the country, which were subject to EU financial sanctions after Russia's full-scale military invasion of Ukraine. These funds include all types of financial assets (funds in bank accounts and securities) owned by 1,229 individuals and 110 legal entities (Russian politicians are in this list). Among them: The sector of public finances and financial regulation of the economy falls under federal competence and is subject to the general policy of the EU in this area.

Currently, judging by public information, the Kingdom of Belgium is being quite dynamic in its search for and freezing of Russian assets. If we take the total figure of 68 billion euros of Russian assets frozen, then almost 75% has been frozen by Belgium. This could be a good bonus for meeting the needs of the Armed Forces or rebuilding our country.

Among the sanctioned Russians in Italy: oligarchs, a propagandist, and a famous athlete

As of November 2022, Italy’s Guarda di Finanza has seized or blocked a total of EUR 1.6515 billion in assets from individuals and legal entities included in the EU sanctions lists. Seizures have been imposed on real estate, yachts, cars, as well as companies and shares belonging to sanctioned individuals.

Who exactly was sanctioned?

Alisher Usmanov, an oligarch close to Putin, can forget about property worth 83 million euros, namely a number of properties located in Golfo di Pevero (in the province of Arzakena, Sardinia), land plots and a villa called "Sa Piantsesa," a number of other Italian and foreign companies, 9 real estate objects in Romazzino (in Ardzakena, Sardinia), and 27 cars.

Propagandist Solovyov has been permanently deprived of two real estate complexes located in the province of Como worth 7.5 million euros, as well as two Mercedes cars. All of this has already been seized.

Dmitrii and Nikita Mazepin: an oligarch and the head of URALCHEM, and his son, the driver of a prestigious Formula 1 car. A real estate complex located in the city of Arzachena (Sardinia) worth EUR 105 million has come under restrictions.

I have also learned that Oleg Savchenko, Gennadiy Timchenko, Alexei Mordashov, Andrei Melnichenko, Piotr Aven,and Eduard Khudainatov have been put under restrictive measures in Italy, along with and the company VEB.RF (Vnesheconombank).

The list of Russians is quite promising, but it should certainly be expanded. Italy is one of the favorite countries of Russian oligarchs, where there could quite possibly be even more Russian big real estate owners.

Germany is in no hurry to help Ukraine with sanctions

According to information from Germany, as of November 2022, EUR 5 billion of Russian assets have been seized in the country, which include bank accounts, yachts, cars, shares in enterprises, real estate, land plots, and works of art.

The issue of developing the legal mechanism necessary to legally confiscate Russian assets with the aim of subsequently transferring them to Ukraine is being worked out centrally at the EU level.

Luxembourg could become an unexpectedly large partner of Ukraine

According to the Ministry of Finance of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, as of today, EUR 5.5 billion of Russian assets owned by 90 individuals and 1,100 legal entities have been blocked in Luxembourg. These are mainly bank assets, securities and income from real estate transactions.

This is an extremely significant number for a country as small as ​​Luxembourg (2,500 kilometers, which is more than three times smaller than Chernivtsi Oblast, the smallest region of Ukraine). There is no such thing as help that’s too small, and when it can be so significant, then our MPs, government, and diplomatic corps should act without delay in establishing closer ties with representatives from Luxembourg.

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France does not disclose the names of Russian asset owners

According to French law, blocked material assets are made part of the public record, but without indicating the personal information of the owner:

According to information released by Guillaume Vallete-Valla, the head of the Office for Intelligence and Countering Underground Financial Schemes (Tracfin) of the Ministry of Economy and Finance of France, the amount of financial and non-financial assets of Russian private individuals frozen in France is about EUR 1.2 billion euros, as assessed at the time of the sales contract. Thus, the real value of the blocked assets may differ by magnitudes.

According to representatives of the French Ministry of Economy and Finance, the total amount of blocked sovereign and private assets of the Russian Federation is about EUR 23.7 billion. However, more detailed information cannot be disclosed.

I find it likely that these numbers from France on Russian assets are not final.

In summary: I thank my fellow parliamentarians and the sanctions agencies in all partner countries that are tracking down Russian assets and freezing them. So far, the most important achievement is that EU countries understand the importance of putting freezes on Russian property and the imposition of sanctions on assets. We must continue to work so that all Russian capital abroad goes to Ukraine as soon as possible. It will help a great deal towards expelling the enemy from our land and rebuilding everything that the Russians have damaged and destroyed.

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