This was stated by European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders, reports “European Truth” with reference to the Irish Times.
New data show that the largest states that have frozen assets under anti-Russian sanctions are Belgium (3.5 billion euros), Luxembourg (nearly 2.5 billion euros), Italy (2.3 billion euros), Germany (2. 2 billion euros), Austria and Ireland (1.8 billion euros each), France (1.3 billion euros) and Spain (over 1 billion euros).
There is a huge discrepancy between the amounts frozen by different EU member states, with Hungary freezing assets of just €3,000.
According to the data obtained by the publication, the assets belong to 1239 sanctioned persons and 116 sanctioned companies included in the EU sanctions list due to their connection with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The European Commission hopes to issue a directive in a few days that would allow assets to be confiscated as well as frozen, Reynders said. Thus, sanctions evasion will fall into the list of “EU crimes”.
The European Commission is ready to move forward with the legislation and “get into implementation as soon as possible,” Reynders said. Completion of the legislative process is possible within a few months.
The criminalization of sanctions evasion would allow assets to be confiscated whenever a conviction is handed down and would apply in cases where oligarchs transfer ownership of an asset to a family member or in a complex legal structure.
“If we manage to confiscate, then it will be possible to return the money to the Ukrainian people. And this is what we are trying to do,” Reynders said.
In addition, the EU is exploring whether Russia’s central bank’s frozen reserves (about 30 billion euros are held in Europe) can be used as a “guarantee” to “pressure Russia” to pay for Ukraine’s future reconstruction.
“After such aggression, it is only logical that some of the funding for the recovery should come from Russia, and not just from the international community,” Reynders said.
Sanction evasion will be the focus of the next round of EU sanctions.
Against the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the EU has frozen Russian assets worth 68 billion euros, Politico reported earlier.