EU seeks more clout against sanctioned Russian oligarchs

May 25, 2022, 5:57 AM | Updated: 6:16 am

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union’s executive arm entered sensitive legal territory on Wednesday with a proposal to confiscate the frozen assets of oligarchs who try to violate the bloc’s sanctions over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The European Commission proposed two EU laws that would require the 27 member states to cede a degree of jealously guarded national sovereignty over criminal matters.

One piece of draft legislation seeks new European rules on freezing and confiscating the assets of people blacklisted by the EU. The second legislative proposal aims to expand the list of acts deemed to be “EU crimes” by including breaches of European sanctions.

Both initiatives need the approval of EU governments in a scrutiny process that usually takes many months and can even last for years. The bloc’s heads of government are due to discuss options for using the frozen assets of sanctioned Russian oligarchs to support the reconstruction of Ukraine during a two-day summit next week.

“There is no time to lose,” Margaritis Schinas, a European Commission vice-president in charge of security matters, told reporters in Brussels. “Many times we see assets recovery and confiscation of the small fry, whereas the big sharks find ways to evade.”

While the EU has spent decades crafting common rules on various areas of criminal law, European sanctions against Russian leaders and oligarchs over the past three months have added impetus to calls for a stronger European framework.

The EU has imposed asset freezes and travel bans on more than 1,000 people, including over 30 oligarchs, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Almost 10 billion euros ($10.7 billion) of assets have so far been frozen by EU member countries, according to the European Commission. It has established a “Freeze and Seize” task force to coordinate the enforcement of what are unprecedented EU penalties against Russia.

“EU sanctions must be respected and those trying to go around them punished,” said Vera Jourova, a commission vice-president responsible for the rule of law. “The violation of EU sanctions is a serious crime and must come with serious consequences. We need EU-wide rules to establish that.”

The draft European law on asset recovery and confiscation seeks to bolster cross-border cooperation in the EU. It would require each member country to establish at least one “asset recovery office”, make it easier for authorities to freeze assets and regulate how such property is managed.

“The core objective is to ensure that crime does not pay by depriving criminals of their ill-gotten gains and limiting their capacity to commit further crimes,” the European Commission said. “The proposed rules will also apply to the violation of restrictive measures, ensuring the effective tracing, freezing, management and confiscation of proceeds derived from the violation of restrictive measures.”

This legislative initiative will need the backing of a majority of member-state governments as well as of the European Parliament. By contrast, the parallel proposal to label the violation of European sanctions an EU crime will require the unanimous support of member countries, giving any single one veto power.

“These are ambitious, yet realistic, proposals and now more than ever are really necessary,” Schinas said. “We already have EU rules in this area, but these rules are fragmented, they are not implemented in a uniform way.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-employee shut down PD website over pay dispute, city says

NEWTON, Mass. (AP) — Officials in a Boston suburb are investigating a former city employee they say shut down the police website during a pay dispute. Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said the former employee, who was the police department information technology director, took down the department website in late June and July. The website instead […]
11 hours ago
In this photo from Friday, July 8, 2022, a sign in a yard in Olathe, Kansas, promotes a proposed am...
Associated Press

Activist offers to pay for Kansas’ recount of abortion vote

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An anti-abortion activist who heads a small hard-right Republican group said he’s offered to pay the expected $229,000 cost of a hand recount of votes from every Kansas county after a decisive statewide vote affirming abortion rights. Mark Gietzen, who leads the group Kansas Republican Assembly, told the Kansas City Star […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Police officer in Louisiana run over, dragged by driver

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — A police officer in Louisiana is in critical condition after police say a suspect ran over him with a vehicle and dragged him during an attempted traffic stop. Police in Lafayette, Louisiana say the officer was dragged 100 feet (30 meters) early Sunday morning. Lafayette is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) […]
11 hours ago
FILE - Passengers walk to the departures terminal of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, A...
Associated Press

A year on, ex-Afghan leader defends role in Taliban takeover

ISLAMABAD (AP) — On the eve of the anniversary of the Taliban takeover of Kabul, Afghanistan’s former president on Sunday defended what he said was a split-second decision to flee, saying he wanted to avoid the humiliation of surrender to the insurgents. Ashraf Ghani also told CNN that on the morning of Aug. 15, 2021, […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Average US gasoline price falls 45 cents to $4.10 per gallon

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) — The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline plummeted 45 cents over the past three weeks to $4.10 per gallon. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday that the continued decline comes as crude oil costs also remain low. “The drop of a dollar per gallon has not been […]
11 hours ago
FILE - Insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump try to break through a police barrier, Wedn...
Associated Press

Some Capitol rioters try to profit from their Jan. 6 crimes

Facing prison time and dire personal consequences for storming the U.S. Capitol, some Jan. 6 defendants are trying to profit from their participation in the deadly riot, using it as a platform to drum up cash, promote business endeavors and boost social media profiles. A Nevada man jailed on riot charges asked his mother to […]
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
EU seeks more clout against sanctioned Russian oligarchs