The German federal prosecutor, Peter Frank, has submitted a request to the Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main to confiscate €720 million ($788 million) in frozen Russian assets, marking a potential groundbreaking precedent in Germany, as reported by Der Spiegel.
If the confiscation is approved, it would be the first of its kind in Germany. Previously, sanctioned Russian assets were merely frozen, preventing Russian owners from disposing of them but not altering ownership.
The funds in question originate from the National Settlement Depository of the Moscow Stock Exchange and were frozen in the summer of 2022.
Der Spiegel reports that after the confirmation of these assets’ inclusion in the European Union sanctions list, JP Morgan received a request to transfer over €720 million to the Commerzbank account of another subsidiary of the Moscow Stock Exchange, the National Clearing Corporation. Due to sanctions, the banks refused to execute the transaction.
Investigators are now considering this as a basis for confiscating the funds as a criminal object. Attempting to withdraw the funds after the announcement of sanctions may be viewed as an effort to circumvent European sanctions.
While the chances of arresting and prosecuting violators are considered almost zero, the state may seek to confiscate the funds through a court order.
The publication says that since the initiation of sanctions, Germany has faced significant challenges in tracking Russian assets. Despite the creation of a special task force, the identification of the true owners of luxury real estate, yachts, and cars remains a complex issue due to intricate ownership structures.
Despite international sanctions imposed by the West against Russian entities for their involvement in the war in Ukraine, the fortunes of Russian businessmen have increased by $38.575 billion since the beginning of 2023.
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