Boats, helicopters, art: Europe freezes 32 billion dollars in assets of the oligarchs

BRUSSELS, April 8 (Reuters) – EU governments have frozen around 30 billion euros ($32.6 billion) in assets linked to oligarchs and other sanctioned people linked to the Kremlin, the European Commission said on Friday. .

The assets, totaling 29.5 billion euros since the start of the war in Ukraine, include bank accounts, boats, helicopters, real estate and works of art, according to the Commission, the executive body of the EU.

In addition, around 196 billion euros in transactions were blocked, he added.

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However, the Commission had no estimate of the total value of the assets of the oligarchs in the European Union.

The volume of frozen resources may also represent only a minor share of assets believed to belong to people sanctioned by the bloc following the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24. The Netherlands alone estimated that around €27 billion in assets in the country and related jurisdictions belonged to blacklisted oligarchs. Read more

Wealthy people can use front men or shell companies and anonymous trusts to conceal their assets, making them very difficult to identify, EU officials and diplomats have said, especially in jurisdictions where rules on the beneficial owners of companies are lax.

The Commission also said that only around half of the 27 EU countries had so far reported any steps they had taken to freeze assets, despite a legal obligation to do so. He did not list the countries that had shared information.

Reuters reported in March that several member states had been reluctant to share asset data publicly.

Moscow describes its offensive as a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” its neighbor. Ukraine and Western supporters call it a pretext for an unprovoked invasion.

Since the invasion of Ukraine, the EU has sanctioned nearly 700 people linked to the Kremlin, including many oligarchs and very wealthy businessmen. Another 200 people are to be added to the list on Friday. Read more .

($1 = 0.9203 euros)

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Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio Editing by Catherine Evans and Pravin Char

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Mary I. Bruner