Media reports UK will probably never be able to seize Russian assets
Publication date

Media reports UK will probably never be able to seize Russian assets

Source:  Politico

In politics, reality rarely matches rhetoric, and the reality is that the UK will probably never be able to seize Russian assets.

Why Great Britain cannot confiscate the frozen assets of the Russian Federation

The publication spoke to sanctions lawyers and political experts, who stressed that despite all the hype, there is not, and never will be, any legal right to retrieve frozen Russian money, property or other assets.

In the months after the war, Britain froze some Russian assets and made several high-profile announcements, including the forced sale of Roman Abramovich's Chelsea football club. However, policy experts stress that there is a big difference between freezing assets and seizing them.

An asset freeze is considered legally proportionate as it is a temporary step. As the EU has agreed, the authorities can use the profits from investing the money, as the assets will theoretically be returned at some point. On the other hand, their final confiscation can have serious legal consequences.

Harriet Baldwin, a senior Conservative and chair of the Treasury Select Committee, previously told POLITICO that Britain cannot "go out and indiscriminately confiscate people's assets" because "that would make us a kleptocratic regime."

A tool for future negotiations

Aside from the legal issues surrounding the outright seizure of assets, British officials know that frozen Russian assets could be useful in future peace negotiations.

If you want to put Putin at the negotiating table, what other tools do you have left? - said Freya Page, director of global coverage of the Kharon analytical company.

Conversely, she said, confiscation of assets permanently would make such negotiations less likely.

Asset freezes make sanctions an ineffective tool because they don't do what they're designed to do, Page said. "Sanctions are not meant to punish. They should bring people to the negotiating table."

Lawyers note that there are also fears that the confiscation of Russian assets may deter investments in the currency or prevent other countries from depositing funds in the central bank.

There is no direct legal precedent" for confiscation of assets. This is completely uncharted legal territory, they note.

By staying online, you consent to the use of cookies files, which help us make your stay here even better 

Based on your browser and language settings, you might prefer the English version of our website. Would you like to switch?