News Reviews

1. Russia from Michael_Novakhov (114 sites): Voice of America: US Justice Department Seeks New Authority to Transfer Seized Russian Assets to Ukraine

The U.S. Justice Department is asking Congress for additional authority to funnel seized Russian assets to Ukraine.

In December, Congress authorized the Justice Department to transfer the proceeds of forfeited Russian assets to the State Department for Ukrainian reconstruction.

But the power applies only to assets seized in connection with violating U.S. sanctions under certain presidential executive orders. 

As a result, millions of dollars’ worth of Russian assets seized and forfeited in violation of U.S. export controls and other economic countermeasures cannot be transferred.

Now, the Justice Department is urging Congress to expand the range of seized assets that it can transfer for Ukrainian rebuilding. 

“We’re leaving money on the table if we don’t expand our ability to use the forfeited assets that we gain from enforcement of our export control violations and expanding the sanctions regimes that that transfer authority is applicable to,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday. “So I urge the Congress to give us the additional authority so we can make the oligarchs pay for rebuilding Ukraine as well.”

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the Justice Department, led by Attorney General Merrick Garland, has cracked down on Russian oligarchs and investigated war crimes.

The law enforcement agency set up a task force shortly after the invasion to enforce sweeping U.S. sanctions and export controls. 

Task Force Kleptocapture has since seized more than $500 million in assets owned by Russian oligarchs and others who support Moscow and dodge U.S. sanctions, Monaco said.

The seized assets include a $300 million super yacht owned by Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, and a $90 million yacht belonging to Viktor Vekselberg, another Russian oligarch. 

The Justice Department is believed to have used its congressionally granted authority to transfer seized Russian funds only once. 

In February, Garland authorized the transfer of $5.4 million seized from a Denver-based bank account of sanctioned Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev.

In the more than one year since Russia’s assault on Ukraine, the Justice Department has charged more than 30 individuals with sanctions evasion, export control violations, money laundering and other crimes, and arrested defendants in more than a half-dozen countries, Monaco said.

Voice of America

1. Russia from Michael_Novakhov (114 sites)