Tuesday February 07, 2023

US, allies to discuss pursuit of Russian oligarchs

March 18, 2022

The United States held a meeting with European and other allies on Thursday of a task force set up to pursue Russian oligarchs and violators of sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Attorney General Merrick Garland met virtually with representatives from Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and the European Commission, the Treasury Department said.

"Our sanctions, trade restrictions, and other measures have already imposed significant costs on Russia, its leadership, and those who enabled (Russian leader Vladimir) Putin’s unprovoked invasion into Ukraine," Yellen said in a statement.

"This multilateral task force will raise those costs even more, by galvanising coordinated efforts to freeze and seize assets of these individuals in jurisdictions around the world and deny safe haven for their ill-gotten gains," she said.

Mairead McGuinness, EU commissioner for financial services, said the "combined measures are having a significant impact -- the Russian economy is in free fall." "The focus of our work is to stop money flowing to the Russian war machine," McGuinness said. "Wealthy oligarchs need to know that they will not find any safe haven in the EU or elsewhere." Garland said the United States is "already working with our international partners to freeze and seize properties belonging to sanctioned Russian oligarchs worldwide.

"We will continue to work together to take all appropriate actions against those whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue its unjust war against Ukraine," the attorney general said.

The Treasury Department said the task force will "collect and share information to take concrete actions, including sanctions, asset freezing, and civil and criminal asset seizure, and criminal prosecution."

It said there have already been "notable successes" in seizing luxury yachts owned by Russian oligarchs. "Collectively, these vessels are estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars," the department said.

The United States announced the launch earlier this month of a multi-agency "Task Force KleptoCapture" to pursue "corrupt Russian oligarchs" and sanctions violators. The move came after US President Joe Biden, in his State of the Union speech, warned Russia’s billionaires that the task force would "find and seize their yachts, their luxury apartments, their private jets." "We are coming for your ill-begotten gains," he said.