With Russia’s Putin still all set to invade Ukraine, governments all over the world decided to impose sanctions and even seize the luxurious assets of the Russian oligarchs.
Europe, the US, and the UK announced that all elites who helped with Ukraine’s invasion and amassed wealth at the expense of Russian people can no longer use their properties with their assets now frozen.
Sadly, it isn’t such a walk in the park to seize all those mansions, private jets, and superyachts from these oligarchs. Countries that enforce sanctions find themselves facing legal battles with these rich people who know the ins and outs of keeping their assets protected.
What are the assets seized so far and what will happen to them next?
Seized Compounds, Yachts, and Private Jets of the Oligarchs
Most high-profile yachts were seized since Ukraine’s invasion of Putin. These include Lady M of Alexei Mordashov, Lena of Gennady Timchenko, and Amore Vero of Igor Sechin.
The $18 million resort compound of Alisher Usmanov was also impounded in Sardinia. Usmanov is also the owner of the superyacht Dilbar.
In response to Ukraine’s invasion, a jet associated with Eugene Shvidler, a Russian billionaire, was also impounded in the UK. It marked the first private jet seizure since a rule was passed by the UK that gives them the authority of detaining Russian aircraft that enter the territory.
What Will Happen Now?
Countries will still be dealing with a legal challenge just to enforce strong sanctions against Russia even after the assets were seized.
These sanctions don’t automatically transfer full ownership of the homes, boats, and planes of the Russian oligarchs to the countries that seized them. Technically, the assets still belong to the oligarchs even if they are frozen. The freeze only means that the owner is not allowed to transfer ownership or sell the assets.
Enforcement of sanctions may result in off-court battles that may last for years. Every country has its own rules and laws, while the newest round of sanctions may raise unanswered and unprecedented legal questions.
Prosecutors also need evidence about the assets being directly involved in a crime, something that might not be easy to pin down since most Russian oligarchs are operating in complete secrecy with their tracks covered every step of the way.
It can be challenging to target oligarchs since they know all too well how to find loopholes just to have their assets protected, such as opening offshore accounts in countries that don’t implement sanctions on them.
If the asset goes under the ownership of the state that decides to sell it off in the end, proceeds often go to law enforcement.
Sechin and Mordashov will remain the owners of their yachts but this time, they can no longer sail away since authorities already have them tied to the docks.
As a result, authorities are now facing the expensive costs associated with these compounds, yachts, and jets. Technically, it is still the responsibility of the oligarchs to maintain their property although their assets are frozen, and they cannot use them. However, they can also choose not to pay, which can render their jets and yachts in disrepair and unusable.
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