WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) — A multinational team designed to seize the fortunes of Russian oligarchs has blocked and frozen $100 billion in funds and assets from sanctioned individuals during the first 30 days of its activity, the U.K. s. The Treasury Department said on Wednesday.
Added to that figure is yachts, other yachts and luxury real estate, as well as $300 billion seized from the Russian Central Bank, the department said.
“We continue to increase the cost of war for Russia,” said the Treasury on the REPO mechanism, an acronym in English for Russian elite, brokers and oligarchs.
The program is designed to drain resources from Russia as President Vladimir Putin continues his invasion of Ukraine, although civil rights activists have raised concerns about possible redundancies.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Attorney General Merrick Garland joined other countries in March to form the REPO team, which cooperates with Putin to investigate and prosecute oligarchs and others. The European Commission has set up its own freeze and seizure team to cooperate with the programme.
The collective has worked to cripple bank accounts, property and assets. For example, the United States this month announced sanctions on one of Europe’s richest men, God Nisanov, and one of Russia’s richest tycoons, Alexei Mordashov, along with his wife and two adult children.
“REPO members will continue to monitor Russian sanctioned assets and prevent approved Russians from mitigating measures jointly imposed by REPO members,” the Treasury said.
As sanctions increase, there are growing concerns that property is being confiscated from non-US citizens outside the judicial process, with significant consequences for sanctioned individuals who may be unable to appeal the forfeiture.
Tom Firestone, an expert attorney on international investigations for commercial clients, said while such interventions “can have consequences for innocent people who have nothing to do with the war, we have to be careful not to punish innocent people.”
“We’ve seen a tremendous expansion of restrictions,” Firestone said. “The United States government pursues a range of objectives. There is a lot of uncertainty about where this is all going.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has challenged bills – including the Ukraine Reconstruction Property Seizure Act, passed in the House of Representatives – that would make it easier to seize Russian assets.
The US government states that in the context of the war that has led to the global food crisis, “we are committed to maximizing the impact of sanctions on designated individuals and entities while avoiding collateral impacts affecting global markets for raw materials and food supplies.” Let’s try.”