European governments that seized the yachts and villas of Russian oligarchs now face a more difficult question: What to do with them?
The sanctions against Russian oligarchs imposed by the European Union, the U.K., the U.S. and other countries unleashed a wave of asset freezes across Europe. Officials impounded a 213-foot yacht owned by Alexei Mordashov in Imperia, Italy, Igor Sechin’s 280-foot yacht in the French port of La Ciotat and Alisher Usmanov’s $18 million resort compound in Sardinia.
President Joe Biden warned the oligarchs in his State of the Union: “We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets. We are coming for your ill-begotten gains.”
Yet sanctions experts say freezing the assets is the simple part. Deciding what to do with them — and who gets the proceeds — is likely to be more challenging and could touch off court battles that drag on for years.
Laws vary by country. And the latest round of sanctions, which go further than any other coordinated global round of sanctions on individuals, create new legal questions that have yet to be answered.