The European Commission wants to make it possible to not only freeze the assets of Russians on whom sanctions have been imposed but also to take them. To this end, she proposes to make sanction evasion a criminal offence throughout the EU.
There have been calls for some time to confiscate frozen assets of, for example, Russian oligarchs and confidants of President Vladimir Putin. The proceeds should benefit the reconstruction of Ukraine devastated by the Russian invasion. But such a step is difficult in many EU countries because the property right is almost sacred.
The committee, therefore, asks the EU countries and the European Parliament to put the offence on the list of EU crimes. That list of cross-border crimes already includes terrorism, drug trafficking and money laundering. They are punishable across the Union.
When the time comes, energy companies could also be tackled, for example, which charge in rubles at the insistence of the Kremlin, even though this is not stated in their contract. Because they thereby violate the sanctions, their possessions may also be confiscated, says European Commissioner Didier Reynders (Justice).
The committee wants to ask member states to transfer the proceeds of seized properties to a fund intended for Ukraine. So far, according to Reynders, about 9.8 billion euros in property belonging to oligarchs, wealthy businessmen with usually close ties to the Kremlin, has been frozen.
There will be new rules for the seizure of property from criminals immediately if it is up to the committee. These should, for example, make it possible to seize very quickly before the owner can secure his assets.