The US and its allies have blocked or seized more than $58 billion worth of assets owned or controlled by sanctioned Russians in the past year as Western governments continue to dial up the pressure over the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a joint statement from a multinational sanctions enforcement task force.
The Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs (REPO) Task Force held its sixth multilateral deputies meeting Thursday morning to discuss the group’s continued work and pledge to “redouble” their efforts to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin and his associates. The task force is a joint effort between the US, Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, the UK and the European Commission.
“REPO will redouble efforts to hold Russia accountable for its unjust war, countering Russian efforts to undermine, circumvent, or evade REPO’s collective sanctions,” according to a joint statement released following the meeting and obtained first by CNN.
“REPO will continue to identify, locate, and freeze the assets of sanctioned Russians, with the aim of depriving the Kremlin of the funds it needs to fight its illegal war,” it continued.
Identifying sanctions evasion: The task force, which was formed last March, is also taking further steps to crack down on sanctions evasion as the US and its allies work to seal the cracks in a sanctions regime that has weakened but not crippled the Russian economy.
Following Thursday’s meeting, REPO also issued a joint global advisory to help the private sector spot and prevent common sanctions evasion methods, like using family members to maintain access to sanctioned assets, creating complex ownership structures and using third-party jurisdictions and false trade information to ship controlled goods, including those that support the Kremlin’s war machine.
The task force has blocked financial assets and seized luxury yachts, high-end real estate and even priceless art, with US officials recovering a possible Fabergé egg from one Russian oligarch’s seized yacht last summer.
A US Treasury official told CNN that REPO also provides the governments involved a valuable and streamlined mechanism to apply many of the same tools and best practices for the broader effort to crack down on sanctions evasion.
Over one year into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Biden administration officials are focusing on how to plug the gaps on sanctions evasion — a problem that runs the gamut of adversaries like China and allies like Turkey, India and the United Arab Emirates.