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The European Commission will introduce a proposal in two weeks to make sanctions evasion a crime in the EU, a move that would help member states confiscate assets frozen as part of the sanctions campaign against Russia, Politico reported, citing officials.

The EC would make the proposal under a treaty provision that allows countries, in coordination with the European Parliament, to "establish minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offenses and sanctions in the areas of particularly serious crime with a cross-border dimension."

The move, officials said, would in turn provide countries with a legal basis for seizing frozen assets.

As of April, EU countries had seized about 30 billion euros worth of assets, including yachts, villas and art belonging to sanctioned Russian individuals and entities

Discussions about whether those assets can be confiscated are ongoing. The catch is that expropriation of assets is a matter of national law, which varies from country to country. In some countries, evading sanctions is a criminal offense; others are not. The Commission's proposal, which would require unanimity of EU capitals as well as the agreement of a majority of MEPs, aims to harmonize this legal mosaic.

What to do with the assets or proceeds will be decided by EU countries, officials said, adding that discussions continue on whether to direct the funds to Ukraine.

 

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