March 30, 2023

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Can you make money from rich Russians?  The European Commission wants to try

Can you make money from rich Russians? The European Commission wants to try

The Russian oligarch on the European blacklist is likely to lose all of their assets in the future. The European Commission wants not only to freeze their assets, but also to confiscate them and sell their assets. This afternoon, the Commission introduced legislation that would make this possible.

Last week, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she wanted to confiscate all European assets of wealthy Russians and blacklisted companies. That money should then be put into a fund for the reconstruction of Ukraine.

Lots of hooks and eyes

The Commission’s plan may seem fair, but it raises many legal questions. For example, is it possible to confiscate someone’s belongings if they have not been convicted by a judge?

Especially because so far there are no judges involved in drawing up the blacklists. The Commission is currently drafting it and the European Union countries agree to it. In the Netherlands, property can only be confiscated and sold if a judge looks into it.

Even the German finance minister questioned last week whether this was against the German constitution. “We must respect the rule of law, even when dealing with Russian oligarchs,” he told German newspaper Handelsblatt.

Not only Russian oligarchs

The Commission’s proposal does not only apply to people on the European blacklist. The assets of companies that do not comply with the sanctions can also be confiscated. European Commissioner Didier Reynders confirmed today that this could apply to gas companies that nonetheless pay in Russian rubles.

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But this is also a tricky point, because there is still So much uncertainty About exactly when the penalties are violated. For example, a number of gas companies said that they will pay in euros, but by opening another account in rubles with Russia’s Gazprom Bank, Russia is paid indirectly in rubles.

It remains uncertain whether the money will actually go to Ukraine from the blacklisted Russians. First, the proposal must be unanimously approved by EU countries and not all countries agree with it. If a constitutional amendment really had to be implemented in Germany, it could take longer.