US-Backed Task Force Seizes More Than $30 Billion Worth of Russian Oligarch Assets

An international task force created in March to put pressure on Russia to end its war in Ukraine has blocked more than $30 billion worth of funds and property owned by Russian oligarchs, the group announced on Wednesday. 

In addition to seizing yachts and luxury homes, the task force, known as Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs (REPO), has frozen about $300 billion worth of Russian Central Bank assets, REPO members said in a joint statement. Ukraine is seeking the frozen funds for its reconstruction.

“REPO’s work is not yet complete,” the statement said. “In the coming months, REPO members will continue to track Russian-sanctioned assets and prevent sanctioned Russians from undermining the measures that REPO members have jointly imposed.”

The U.S.-led task force was created on March 17 with the purpose of confiscating the assets of Russian individuals and entities that have been sanctioned in connection with Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine. In addition to the United States, its members include Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the European Commission.

Since the start of the invasion, the U.S. Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on hundreds of entities and individuals close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the latest move on Tuesday, the Treasury Department announced sanctions against 70 Russian entities, many deemed critical to Russia’s defense capabilities, and 29 Russian individuals. 

As part of the U.S. pressure campaign on Russia, the U.S. Justice Department launched Task Force KleptoCapture in March. Working with foreign partners, the task force has seized assets owned by Russian oligarchs worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

In April, Spanish authorities, at the request of the Justice Department, seized a super yacht owned by Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg. 

In May, Fijian authorities seized a $300 million yacht owned by another sanctioned oligarch, Suleiman Kerimov. The 106-meter luxury Amadea arrived in San Diego Bay on Monday, the Justice Department said.

Ukrainian officials say they want to take possession of the frozen Russian assets, including hundreds of billions of dollars in Russian Central Bank reserves, to fund reconstruction in Ukraine.  

Last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the cost of rebuilding his country’s economy and infrastructure could run up to $600 billion.

Several European countries have backed Ukraine’s call, while the Justice Department has asked Congress for authority to transfer some of the proceeds of oligarch assets to Ukraine.