The European Commission is set to bolster the powers it has to seize oligarchs’ assets, after the bloc faced troubles in actually confiscating property due to the safeguards embedded in EU countries’ laws.
The EU’s executive body set out plans to boost the powers it has to take control of criminals’ assets, with a view to making it possible to confiscate assets, that could later be sold and given to Ukraine.
The plans come as the EU’s “freeze and seize” strategy has faltered in recent months, as member states have struggled to actually take control over the French Riviera villas owned by the sanctioned super-rich.
Laws in member states including France and Germany have blocked the EU freeze and seize taskforce from confiscating assets, even after they have been frozen.
The situation means oligarchs are able to continue using their luxury superyachts, despite not being able to sell them off or rent them out.
As of April, EU countries had frozen €30 billion in assets, including villas, yachts, and art owned by sanctioned individuals and entities linked to Russia and Belarus.
Brussels plans would also make it a crime to circumvent sanctions in any EU member state, to ensure any “loopholes” are closed inside the EU.
The new laws would see penalties standardized across the EU, and in turn make it easier for the EU itself to investigate, prosecute, and punish those avoiding sanctions in member states.