RuAssetsWatch: Monitoring Initiatives to Confiscate Russian Assets for the Recovery of Ukraine
Detailed description of the situation and analysis – May 2023
— The Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe was held in Reykjavík, resulting in an agreement signed on the creation of the Register of Damage Caused by the Aggression of the Russian Federation Against Ukraine. This is the first real step of Ukraine’s partners, bringing closer to working out the legal basis for obtaining
access to the frozen Russian assets and their subsequent confiscation for the reconstruction of Ukraine.
— The Prime Minister of Belgium Alexander De Croo said that the country had frozen Russian assets worth EUR 180 billion and intended to use part of the taxes on these assets for the reconstruction of Ukraine.
— Members of the European Parliament in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs voted to introduce proposals to the draft Asset Recovery and Confiscation Directive 2022/0167 (COD), which will speed up the freezing and confiscation of criminal assets across the EU.
— The G7 leaders at the Hiroshima summit announced they remain united in the introduction of coordinated sanctions and other economic activities aimed at further undermining Russia’s ability to conduct illegal aggression in Ukraine, and would continue to search, freeze, arrest and, in appropriate cases, confiscate the assets of sanctioned persons.
— The US, UK and Australia have announced new restrictive measures targeting those helping the Kremlin to wage war against Ukraine by circumventing sanctions and tightened export controls.
— According to the media, more than EUR 200 billion of assets of the Russian Central Bank have been frozen in the EU. These are new data after the 10th package of EU sanctions was introduced, which obliged banks to submit reports on frozen sovereign assets of the Russian Federation.
— The U.S. Departments of Commerce and Justice have jointly launched the Disruptive Technology Strike Force to prevent Russia and countries like China and Iran from illegally obtaining advanced US technology. The Strike Force recently announced criminal charges against individuals who supply source code for software and hardware stolen from US technology companies to China.
— The US monitors possible loopholes to circumvent sanctions – the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether Binance Holdings Ltd. or its officials helped Russians circumvent sanctions and transfer money through the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.
— In Ukraine, the future of Sense Bank (formerly Alfa Bank), controlled by the sanctioned Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman, has finally been decided. On May 29, 2023, the Verkhovna Rada adopted the Law “On Amending Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on Improving the Procedure for Withdrawing Banks from the Market during Martial Law”, which will allow nationalizing Sense Bank.
— Law enforcement agencies exposed the scheme of the sanctioned oligarch Dmytro Firtash and the directors of gas DSOs controlled by him. According to the investigation, the DSOs “purchased” fuel from an affiliated company but received no more than 30% of the gas paid for. According to preliminary estimates, the amount of damage in 2016-
2022 may be more than UAH 18 billion. The assets of DSOs are currently under the management of Naftogaz structures.
— The President Volodymyr Zelenskyi signed a decree on the introduction of sanctions on legal entities and individuals, including VS Energy International NV (Netherlands), owner of several electricity DSOs in Ukraine and VS Energy Latvia. Further implementation of the introduced sanctions is expected.
The material was prepared with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation within the framework of the project “Advocacy for the Green Recovery of Ukraine through Increased Support for Ukraine and Weakening of Russian Influence in the EU”. The material reflects the position of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the position of the International Renaissance Foundation.