“ Advice! ”, said SP MP Van Dyck about 6 million euros of Russian assets that have so far been frozen in the Netherlands under international sanctions. This amount is in stark contrast to the $10 billion already withheld by Belgium.
Finance Minister Kag announced the amount in the House of Representatives on Monday. This frustrated many MPs. After all, that’s largely about billionaires, it was the prevailing sentiment. The frozen funds are in the accounts of asset managers, banks and pension funds and are owned by wealthy Russians and companies on the EU sanctions list.
How can we have frozen a fortune so much less than Belgium? Expert Evo Amar, a lawyer in the field of penal law and export control at Benink Amar’s lawyer in Amsterdam, answers the most important questions.
1. How can the difference between Holland and Belgium be so great?
“I also noticed that. Belgium blocked a lot and Holland very few. There are several reasons for this. There is a difference in the type of financial institution. In the Netherlands it is mainly about credit bureaus and in Belgium it is mainly about banks.”
“Since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, there have been sanctions against Russia. The Netherlands has examined more closely whether they are being complied with than did Belgium. This is partly due to the dropping of MH17. Then the Russians went to other banks with and thus, the financial relations With Russians it is often done through trust offices, often referred to as e-mail companies, but they do not have any Russian money in the bank themselves.”
“Then the way in which the total is calculated may differ between the two countries. For example, if the management of a Russian trust is frozen, Belgium may calculate the value of that trust, while the Netherlands believes that there is no value for a frozen administration. It can be traced.”
2. Could it be that Belgium applies sanctions differently than the Netherlands, freezing more funds?
“In principle, all EU countries should interpret the sanctions in the same way. But in practice there may be differences.”
“It is important to know that all countries are allowed to impose different penalties and also different punishment if the penalties are violated. A banker who deals with a Russian person however can be sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in France and only 6 years in the Netherlands. EU countries can decide That by herself.”
“There are 862 Russians and 73 Russian companies on the EU sanctions list, which therefore also applies in the Netherlands. Institutions have indicated that they have 132 “customer relationships” with them. This can include multiple relationships with a company or person.”
3. What about the practical side of frozen funds and goods, eg how long can they be frozen?
“In principle, it can be frozen indefinitely. Moreover, the company in which the money or property is located is responsible for this freeze. If the shipyard has a boat for maintenance or something similar at the time of the freeze, then it has to put something There. He kept it for years.”
“You don’t get any compensation for storage or parking or anything like that. There is no legal provision for this. That is why you are now seeing more and more governments taking on freezing big ships, because it will be very difficult for shipyards.”
“You don’t have to worry about being in charge of maintenance. If the freeze goes on for years, things can of course deteriorate. But there is no liability. The blacklisted person can’t claim compensation later, because his yacht came back to him in poor condition.”
4. As a sanction attorney, have you been contacted by the Russian oligarch to help impose sanctions on them?
“Yes, our office receives requests from the oligarchs to help them. They only have one question: How do we get rid of the sanctions? They want to challenge the sanctions before them in the European Court. We will not be allowed to.”
“It’s not that sanctions prevent us from doing this. Legal aid is allowed, economic assistance is not. Although paying the bill may be a bit more difficult, haha. We help Dutch parties that do or do business with Russians. Think of companies in food, manufacturing or technological industries”.
Sanctions lawyer Ivo Amar explains how sanctions against Russian ultra-high net worth individuals in the Netherlands work at EenVandaag on NPO Radio 1
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