A multilateral transatlantic task force to identify, hunt down, and freeze the assets of sanctioned Russian companies and oligarchs has been launched by a coalition of western allies – the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Canada, and the US – in response to Russia’s military action in Ukraine.
A joint statement issued by the coalition also called for the removal of selected Russian banks from the Swift electronic messaging platform and the imposition of measures on the Russian central bank with the aim of denying it access to the US$600 billion of Russian foreign reserves it manages.
The increasingly severe sanctions announced by the coalition and its partners has already resulted in the announcement of a swathe of new financial crime compliance, sanctions and security measures. If Russia’s military action in Ukraine continues, more can be expected.
Targeting Russian government supporters
The task force has been established to implement sanctions and other anti-money-laundering, financial and enforcement measures to maximise their effect on sanctioned Russian officials and elites close to the Russian government, as well as their families and their enablers, according to an unnamed senior US administration official.
Speaking at a background press call on imposing measures targeting Russian financial assets, the official said the measures aim to identify and freeze the assets those associated with the Russian government hold in the coalition’s jurisdictions.
“We’ll go after their yachts, their luxury apartments, their money, and their ability to send their kids to fancy colleges in the west” the official said.
The task force intends to engage other governments so as to “detect and disrupt the movement of ill-gotten gains and deny these individuals their ability to hide their assets in jurisdictions across the world.”
Measures to limit the sale of citizenship – so-called golden passports that allow wealthy Russians connected to the administration of President Vladimir Putin to become citizens in certain countries and gain access to their financial systems – are also being considered by the task force.
The Joint Statement on further restrictive economic measures issued by the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Canada, and the US can be found here.
A transcript of The Background Press Call by a Senior Administration Official on Imposing Additional Severe Costs on Russia can be found here.
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