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16 Mar, 2022 18:22

Russian treasure hunt task force set up by the West

Billions of dollars in assets have already been seized
Russian treasure hunt task force set up by the West

The US Departments of Justice and the Treasury announced on Wednesday that Western nations have launched a “multilateral Russian oligarch task force” to target their assets worldwide.

According to the Treasury statement, Australia, Canada, the European Commission, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, the UK, and US have all agreed to increase cooperation as part of their anti-Russia sanctions. They will collect and share information to take concrete actions, such as asset freezing, civil and criminal asset seizure, and criminal prosecution.

Cooperation between the US government and foreign partners has already yielded notable successes, the statement said, pointing out that in the last three weeks alone, “multiple vessels controlled by sanctioned individuals and entities” have been seized. Collectively, those vessels are estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, the report said.

“Our sanctions, trade restrictions, and other measures have already imposed significant costs on Russia, its leadership, and those who enabled Putin’s unprovoked invasion into Ukraine,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said. “This multilateral task force will raise those costs even more, by galvanizing coordinated efforts to freeze and seize assets of these individuals in jurisdictions around the world and deny safe haven for their ill-gotten gains,” she added.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday the country has no plans to nationalize foreign assets in response to seizures of Russian property abroad. “Unlike Western countries, we will respect property rights,” he said.

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