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United States Government Wants To Sell Off Seized Russian Oligarch's Assets For Ukraine Aid

United States Government Wants To Sell Off Seized Russian Oligarch's Assets For Ukraine Aid

Biden Administration had proposed legislation that would allow the federal government to sell any assets for humanitarian aid.

The United States government hopes to sell off seized Russian oligarchs’ assets to fund their £26 billion (US$33 billion, AU$46 billion) Ukraine aid package. 

Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer says the Ukraine aid package includes provisions for the US government to seize the assets from Russian billionaires.

The government is moving quickly to target any oligarchs with links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, hoping that the move will influence his actions in Ukraine, and reduce the power of Putin and his allies, according to Axios

At a news conference in New York, Schumer said: "Ukraine needs all the help it can get and, at the same time, we need all the assets we can put together to give Ukraine the aid it needs.

"It's time for sanctioned Russian oligarchs to be held accountable for the ill-gotten wealth that they have received.”

The White House under the Biden Administration had proposed last week legislation that would allow the federal government to sell any assets that have been seized from Russian oligarchs and use the proceeds for military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. 

The proposal included provisions that would streamline the process of liquidating the seized assets in order to help Ukraine. 

Schumer continued: “These oligarchs, loyal to Putin, are extremely wealthy and bought these types of assets, which are here in the United States.

He added: “This is the kind of stuff we're talking about: yachts, mansions. You may ask, 'Are any of these assets in New York?' Obviously, a whole bunch are.”

Not all Russian billionaires have ties to Putin, however, a huge amount of illicit wealth is held by senior officials or those in executive roles in Russian-controlled businesses.

ITAR-TASS News Agency / Alamy

It's unclear whether the US government will get what it wants as there are concerns the proposal isn't even legal.

Professor of Law, Paul B. Stephan, wrote in The Conversation: "Selling off Russian state property such as central bank assets, creates other problems.

"International law provides a certain degree of immunity from confiscation to foreign nations and their assets overseas. Outside of wartime, confiscation of state property, including U.S. deposits of Russia’s central bank, runs up against these challenges.

The news comes after Fiji’s High Court had ruled in favour of a bid by the US government to seize a superyacht owned by Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov. 

The £255 million (US$320 million, AU$450 million) yacht, is currently under investigation with the defence also granted time to apply for a stay order.

Kerimov is a politician and businessman with ties to Putin and has been sanctioned by the United States since 2018 for alleged money laundering. 

Thirteen yachts have been seized by the United States government since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24.

The fleet of yachts is worth more than £2 billion (US$2.5 billion, AU$3.5 billion) and will go a long way to funding the Ukrainian aid package.

Featured Image Credit: Chuck Nacke / Alamy. Wirestock, Inc. / Alamy.

Topics: Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin, Russia, Ukraine