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Biden to send Congress proposals to further pressure Russian oligarchs

The package — developed through an interagency process including the Treasury Department, Justice Department, State Department and Commerce Department — will “establish new authorities for the forfeiture of property linked to Russian kleptocracy, allow the government to use the proceeds to support Ukraine and further strengthen related law enforcement tools,” the White House said in a fact sheet.
The proposal is expected to come alongside a request for Congress to approve new supplemental aid for Ukraine, including military, economic and humanitarian assistance that is expected to last through the end of the fiscal year. Biden is set to deliver remarks on offering support for Ukraine at 10:45 a.m. ET in the White House’s Roosevelt Room.
While members have agreed that more money for Ukraine is necessary, it’s still not clear how the supplemental would move swiftly through Congress nor is it clear how quickly this proposal on oligarchs could move. A likely path would be to tie the two pieces of legislation together, but Republican and Democratic leaders are in the early stages of talks on how to pass the broader funding for Ukraine.

One element of the package would streamline the federal government’s efforts for seizing the assets of Russian oligarchs by creating a new administrative process through Treasury and the Justice Department “for the forfeiture of property in the United States that is owned by sanctioned Russian oligarchs and that has a connection to specified unlawful conduct.” It would make it a criminal offense for people to “knowingly or intentionally possess proceeds directly obtained from corrupt dealings with the Russian government.”

The proposal would also help direct proceeds from “forfeited funds related to corruption, sanctions and export control violations, and other specified offenses to remediate harms of Russian aggression toward Ukraine,” with the Justice Department, Treasury and State working together on these efforts. Earlier this week, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Biden administration would support legislation allowing for some of the proceeds from assets the DOJ seizes from Russian oligarchs “to go directly to Ukraine.”

The proposed package would allow for “forfeiture of property that Russian oligarchs can use to facilitate the evasion of sanctions,” a shift from the current US law which only allows for the US to forfeit the proceeds of sanctions violations. It also would categorize sanctions evasion as “racketeering activity,” extend the statute of limitations for pursuing money laundering prosecutions based on foreign offense from five to 10 years, and would enhance the US ability to work with allies and partners to recover assets linked to foreign corruption.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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