France freezes €850 million of Russian assets

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French finance minister Bruno Le Maire says the sanctions are ‘hitting Russia hard’. (AFP pic)

AFP

PARIS: France has seized around €850 million of Russian oligarchs’ assets on its soil, finance minister Bruno Le Maire said today.

“We have immobilised … €150 million in individual’s accounts, credit lines in France and in French establishments,” Le Maire told French television as Paris hits Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Furthermore, “we have immobilised €539 million in real estate on French territory, corresponding to some 390 properties or apartments and we have sequestered two yachts (with a value of) €150 million”, said Le Maire.

“In total that is (almost) €850 millions in assets belonging to Russian oligarchs which have been immobilised on French soil,” he added.

The French crackdown means the owners are unable to sell on or monetise their assets.

Notwithstanding, “they are not seized in the sense that the state becomes the owner and could then sell them on. For there to be seizure there has to be a penal offence”, Le Maire stipulated.

“The sanctions are hitting Russia, the state, Vladimir Putin hard,” Le Maire went on.

Since Russian began its war in Ukraine on Feb 24 western states have responded with a wide-ranging package of stiff financial sanctions.

On Friday, Russia’s central bank said the extent of the sanctions would make macroeconomic forecasting “extremely difficult”.

Four days after the invasion began Moscow hiked its main interest rate from 9.5% to 20% and the response to the conflict has largely cut Russia’s financial sector off from the global economy.