Belgium has already blocked 3.5 billion euros in funds from Russian oligarchs and entities in the framework of the European sanctions adopted in response to the war in Ukraine. This is shown by an overview of the European Commission that the French news agency AFP has been able to lay hands on. All together, the 27 member states already blocked 18.9 billion euros in Russian money, but no country more than Belgium.
Only eight member states blocked more than 1 billion euros: Belgium (3.5 billion), Luxembourg (2.5 billion), Italy (2.3 billion), Germany (2.2 billion), Ireland (1.8 billion), Austria (1.8 billion), France (1.3 billion) and Spain (1 billion). The commission collected the amounts from the member states themselves, the statement was knocked down on 25 November.
Belgium and Luxembourg also hold assets of the Russian National Settlement Depository (NSD), the central securities settlement register sanctioned by the EU. Belgium froze 46.9 billion euros, Luxembourg 3 billion.
Malta, a country that used a controversial system of “golden passports” offered to wealthy investors, is in the tail of the European pack, with 146, 558 euros in blocked funds. Greece is second to last with 212,201 euros.
For their role in the conflict in Ukraine, 1,241 people and 118 entities have been blocked on European soil. An entry ban was also issued against the persons.
On Thursday, European commissioners Didier Reynders, in charge of justice, and Mairead McGuinness, in charge of financial services, reminded member states that the freezing of the funds of individuals and entities that were sanctioned is mandatory. It also needs to be communicated.
“The information provided and the frequency with which it is released continue to vary from one member state to another. That harms our collective efforts, ” Reynders and McGuinness wrote to the finance ministers. “Therefore, we would like to ask you to proceed quickly and efficiently to the freezing of funds and to ask your authorities to update the information they provide to the European Commission with greater regularity.”
At their last European summit, on 20 and 21 October, European leaders asked the Commission to study options for using the frozen funds for Ukraine’s reconstruction. On 30 November, the Commission put forward a number of proposals on how it intends to do this.