On September 14, the Valdai Club hosted a discussion dedicated to the fate of the property of Russians abroad, titled “Confiscation of Russian Assets: Limits of Aggravation.” The participants also discussed Russia’s possible response in modern conditions.
According to the Ministry of Finance, since the start of the special military operation in February 2022, assets of more than 3.5 million Russians worth 1.5 trillion rubles have been frozen.
Blocking financial sanctions involve freezing the assets of Russian citizens and companies included in the sanctions lists. Russians are losing access to frozen property, and the countries initiating sanctions are persecuting any attempt to bring them to Russia. At the same time, calls in the West to transfer Russian property to Ukraine are growing louder.
In June, reports appeared about the grounding of a Russian An-124 aircraft in Canada. It was detained last year, when Canadian authorities filed a corresponding petition in court. Thus, for the first time, a mechanism for the confiscation of Russian property was established at the national level in Canada. The United States is so far limiting itself to the criminal prosecution of individuals, but not all Russians under sanctions. The search for legal mechanisms for confiscation is also underway in the EU.
Russia had previously refrained from retaliating, but in August, at the Council on Strategic Development and National Projects, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov proposed starting an exchange of assets of Russian citizens for assets of foreign investors. “At the first stage, we plan to unblock accounts worth about 100 billion rubles belonging to retail investors.”
What are the features of existing and developing mechanisms for the confiscation of Russian property? What does the experience of Canada and the USA say? What problems does the confiscation of Russian property in the EU lead to? What determines Switzerland’s restrained attitude towards the issue of confiscation? What might Russia’s response be? What are the prospects for the escalation of the conflict between Russia and the West due to the confiscation of Russian property? Participants in the discussion tried to answer these and other questions.
Dmitry Timofeev, Director of the Department for Control of External Restrictions of the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation
Anastasia Likhacheva, Dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Politics, Higher School of Economics
Konstantin Simonov, General Director of the National Energy Security Fund, Professor at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation
Sergey Glandin, partner, lawyer at BGP Litigation
Working languages: Russian, English.