The Biden administration has announced the seizure of assets of Russian oligarchs. “These individuals and their family members will be cut off from the U.S. financial system, their assets in the United States will be frozen and their property will be blocked from use,” they said. So far, it seems the main seizures are of luxury jets and yachts. There are three problems with this:
- First is that the main assets seized are luxury jets and yachts and that stock market accounts and real estate investments are apparently left out.
- Second is that the assets are merely frozen, but not sold. So the wealth doesn’t go where it should and when it should: to the Ukrainian people and right now.
- Third, and most important, is the difficulty in finding the majority of the assets. That’s because much of the wealth is hidden in shell companies. Those are companies whose ownership is completely hidden. This is enabled by the fact that companies are chartered by state law, and there has been a competition over the years between different states for who can make the most lax laws in order to entice oligarchs and other criminals to charter their companies in that particular state. The state that leads in this dirty competition is Biden’s home state, Delaware.
To my knowledge, the law that legalizes asset seizure in the US “temporarily” exempts real estate from such seizure, but the real estate industry is the one that is most commonly used for money laundering through shell companies.
We should demand:
- That the assets not only be seized but that they be sold immediately and the money given to the Ukrainian people immediately.
- Immediately eliminate any exemption of real estate or any other asset from such seizures.
- End the existence of all shell companies so that the true wealth of these oligarchs can be found.
Update: We should also call for the seizure of the assets of Ukrainian oligarchs!