Widespread sanctions have been placed on Vladimir Putin and some of the richest Russians alive. But according to one corruption expert, the EU’s sanctions are failing to keep the Russian oligarchs out of Europe. In fact, Germany’s ‘sanctions’ on Russian oligarchs still allow them access to their luxury cars and homes in the country.
Currently, the EU’s sanctions mean Russian oligarchs cannot sell their assets or bring them abroad.
But Kateryna Ryzhenko, deputy executive director of Transparency International Ukraine, who fled Ukraine herself on foot at the outbreak of the war, says this means that although they cannot sell their assets or bring them abroad, they can still use their luxury houses or cars in Germany.
She said: “All those assets that have been frozen in a lot of European countries — yachts, houses, money — at this point, there is a huge legal gap of what to do with them.
“It’s not only about tracing, seizing, freezing. It’s also about how you can confiscate that money, but also how to use it in order to cover the problems that these people with this money created for the victims of the war.”
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Transparency International is calling on the EU and Germany to put the legwork in to fully sanction rich Russians.
Ms Ryzhenkon continued: “There can be funds created, for example, where international partners with civil society representatives and Ukrainian representatives decide how to manage this money.
“But first, the European Union needs to address how to legally and according to the rule of law, confiscate these assets instead of just freezing them.”
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has been the first to criticise Germany for its overall response to the war in Ukraine.
“I think Germany is more pragmatic than anyone else with regards to the situation among those countries which can really help.
“It’s not always about us, what we need and what the world needs. I think the Germans are making a mistake today.
“I think they make mistakes often. I think the legacy of Germany’s relations with Russia shows this.”
Germany has not responded to Mr Zelensky’s comments.