(Headline USA) A multinational task force designed to seize Russian oligarchs’ wealth has blocked and frozen $30 billion in sanctioned individuals’ property and funds in its first 100 days in operation, the Treasury Department reported on June 29.
That’s on top of the yachts, other vessels and luxury real estate that have been impounded as well as $300 billion in Russian Central Bank funds that have been immobilized, the department said.
“We continue to increase Russia’s cost of its war,” Treasury said of the REPO task force, short for Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs.
The program is designed to drain Russia of its resources as President Vladimir Putin continues his invasion of Ukraine, but civil rights advocates have raised concerns about potential overreach.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Attorney General Merrick Garland convened the REPO task force in March in conjunction with several other countries, which work together to investigate and prosecute oligarchs and other individuals allied with Putin. The European Commission has set up its own Freeze and Seize Task Force to work in conjunction with the REPO group.
The collective has worked to impound bank accounts, assets and properties. For instance, earlier this month, the U.S. announced sanctions on God Nisanov, one of the richest men in Europe, and Alexey Mordashov, one of Russia’s wealthiest billionaires, along with his wife and two adult children.
“REPO members will continue to track Russian sanctioned assets and prevent sanctioned Russians from undermining the measures that REPO members have jointly imposed,” Treasury said.
The American Civil Liberties Union has contested bills — including the House-passed Asset Seizure for Ukraine Reconstruction Act — that would make the seizure of Russian assets easier for the government.
The government said that in a wartime environment that has spawned a worldwide food crisis “we are seeking to maximize the impact of sanctions on designated persons and entities while guarding against spillover that affects global commodities markets and food supplies.”
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press