EU shamed for ‘huge legal gap’ allowing Russian oligarchs to live in luxury across Europe | World | News

European Union countries have sanctioned Russian oligarchs across the continent for Putin’s attacks on Ukraine, but the bloc has not done enough to force Communist forces out of the country.

Sanctions imposed since the February 24 invasion include Russia’s exclusion from the SWIFT banking system, and the targeting of individuals such as oligarchs deemed close to President Putin.

However, as confirmed by German authorities, even though they cannot sell or take their assets abroad, Russian oligarchs are still free to use their luxury homes or cars in EU countries.

Kateryna Ryzhenko, deputy executive director of Transparency International Ukraine, called on the Brussels bloc to do more to pressure Putin.

He said: “They continue to bomb Ukraine … What has been done is not enough, so there must be … wider and stronger sanctions.”

Calling on the EU to provide much-needed money, he told Politico: “You need to rebuild the country, you need to rebuild the houses, you need to re-create the infrastructure.”

He

continued: “All the assets that have been frozen in many European countries — yachts, houses, money — at this point, there is a huge legal gap as to what to do with them.

“It’s not just about tracking, capturing, freezing.

“It’s also about how you can confiscate the money, but also how to use it to cover up the problems these people created with this money for the victims of war.”

Praising the progress his country has made to become more democratic and less dependent on Russia, he added: “Ukraine is moving towards reforms, democracy and a stronger independent state, but also moving away from Russia… And it’s getting harder. [for the Kremlin] to explain to the people in Russia why Ukraine is so bad if they live so well.”

Rich

Russians are pouring money into real estate in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, seeking financial haven after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and Western sanctions, according to property companies.

“We sell seven to eight units to Russia every day,” said Gul Gul, co-founder of real estate firm Golden Sign in Istanbul. “They buy in cash, they open bank accounts in Turkey or they carry gold.”

In Dubai, Thiago Caldas, CEO of property firm Modern Living, has hired three Russian-speaking agents to cater to Russian interest, which he says has soared tenfold.

While Turkey and the UAE have criticized the Russian attack, Ankara opposes non-UN sanctions against Russia and the two countries have relatively good relations with Moscow and still operate direct flights, potentially offering an exit route for Russia and their money.

“They are rich Russians but not oligarchs,” said Gul of Golden Sign, one of a dozen real estate companies interviewed by Reuters. “They found a way to bring their money to Turkey.”

“There are customers who buy three to five flats,” added Gul.

Russia has been a big buyer of Turkish property for years, behind Iranians and Iraqis, but real estate players say there has been a surge in demand in recent weeks.

While this is still early days, the industry figures support their account; In February, as troops gathered at the Ukrainian border before advancing, Russia bought 509 homes in Turkey, nearly double the number they took last year, according to the country’s statistics office.

The data was still in place before Western sanctions took effect, and real estate agents said they expect the number to grow even further, boosting demand already fueled by the world’s emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ibrahim Babacan, whose company in Istanbul builds and sells real estate primarily to foreign buyers in Turkey, said in the past many Russians wanted to live in resorts like the Mediterranean region of Antalya. Now they are buying apartments in Istanbul to invest their money.