Authorities Move to Seize Russian Real Estate and Assets
Over a week after Russia invaded Ukraine, much of the western world is taking sides, at least economically. Authorities in NATO member states are calling for assets of Russian oligarchs to be seized, putting pressure on Putin’s cronies abroad and at home. However, all that talk may turn out to be bluster when it comes to real estate. Finding Russian assets is more complex than seizing them. Keeping them may be impossible.
Before war broke out in Ukraine, Western leaders warned Russia against invading. President Joe Biden vowed to seize mansions, luxury condos, and yachts for Putin and his oligarchs. French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz echoed that rhetoric, yet it was not enough to deter Putin. As cities begin to fall and casualties mount, the West’s threat is tested.
While it’s clear is that U.S. real estate is being used to store Russian money, experts say finding it is next to impossible. More than $2 billion is laundered through U.S.-based assets like real estate, jewelry, and yachts, according to Global Financial Integrity reporting. GFI put together a database of more than 100 real estate money laundering cases from the U.S., UK, and Canada over the last 5 years as part of its research. The report found that the U.S. is a favored destination for money laundering because the U.S. is the only G7 country that doesn’t require real estate professionals to comply with anti-money laundering laws.
In America, attorneys, investment analysts, employees, brokers, and
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