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France freezes US$920 million of Russian oligarchs’ assets

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France has frozen and seized assets of Russian oligarchs to the tune of around $938 million. “We have immobilised … €150 million in individual’s accounts, credit lines in France and in French establishments,” French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told French television as Paris hits Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Furthermore, “we have immobilised €539 million in real estate on French territory, corresponding to some 390 properties or apartments and we have sequestered two yachts (with a value of) €150 million,” said Le Maire. “In total that is (almost) €850 millions in assets belonging to Russian oligarchs which have been immobilised on French soil,” he added.

The French crackdown means the owners are unable to sell or monetise their assets.Notwithstanding, “they are not seized in the sense that the state becomes the owner and could then sell them on. For there to be seizure there has to be a penal offence”, Le Maire stipulated. “The sanctions are hitting Russia, the state, Vladimir Putin hard,” Le Maire went on.

France established a task force to implement EU sanctions against Russian oligarchs or those close to President Vladimir Putin.It is tasked with finding their assets in France and identifying the owners of bank accounts, luxury villas, and yachts, which is a complicated endeavour due to the many shell companies used to hide identities.

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